Temporary traveller site accepted despite landscape harm

Two separate proposals for four stables and the use of a site for the stationing of a caravan for residential use have been approved in open countryside in Kent, the latter on a temporary and personal basis only in recognition of the appellant's current living conditions and in the best interests of the children concerned, despite its acknowledged harm to the appearance of the landscape character area.

The inspector considered the council had tackled both proposals erroneously by not taking into account material considerations relating to previous permissions at the site and the appellant’s gypsy and traveller status. Four stables at the rural site had previously been approved to supplement an even earlier permission for use of the land for the grazing of horses. The inspector failed to see why the council had now come to a different decision on the current proposal and awarded full costs against them for unreasonable behaviour in relation to the stables proposal.

In relation to the residential caravan use proposal, the inspector firstly accepted the gypsy status of the appellant as per the definition in Annex 1 of Planning Policy for Traveller Sites. He then noted there was an agreed lack of a five-year supply of traveller sites in the area and when taking on board the family’s present living arrangements, he determined there was no suitable, available, affordable and acceptable alternative site for the appellant and the risk of the family having to resort to roadside living was very real. As a result, he attached substantial weight to the personal circumstances of the family as a material consideration, despite the proposal being for a permanent permission, opining that paragraph 27 of the PPTS could still apply. He concluded the lack of a five-year supply of traveller sites meant paragraph 11d of the NPPF was engaged and in the balance of harms and benefits, the inspector held a four-year temporary permission would give time for other pitches to come forward and not disrupt the family too much.

In relation to the residential use partial costs award, the inspector held the council failed to attach proper weight to the gypsy status and personal circumstances of the appellant during the application stage resulting in them having to justify their status at the hearing.

Inspector: S J Papworth; Hearing

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