Gypsy site allowed as inspector gives priority to housing rights

An inspector has allowed an appeal seeking the retention of long-stay caravan pitches for two families on land in Hampshire despite finding that the appellant and her family were not Gypsies for planning purposes.

The inspector recognised the need for Gypsy sites in the area and saw no clear indication of when this issue would be dealt with by the planning system. On character and appearance, he held that further tree planting would serve to soften the outlines of the mobile homes over time. However, he noted that no contribution was offered towards open space provision and decided that this undermined council strategy.

The appellant's husband and son repaired mobile homes for a living. Initially, business was gained by leafleting as they moved from area to area, but customers now contacted the husband at the appeal site and he travelled to carry out repairs. The inspector found that the family had not ceased to travel on grounds of education, health or old age and so did not meet Circular 01/06's definition of Gypsies and travellers.

However, he considered that because the appellant and her family had never lived in a house, their familiarity with living in caravans and their Gypsy culture should be respected. He accepted that they had a need for a caravan site. He remarked that the circular aims to reduce the number of unauthorised encampments in the light of failure to deliver adequate sites in many areas over the past decade.

In his view, the proposal would deal with that deficiency, albeit in a small way. He considered that the family was likely to become homeless through eviction and had no prospect of alternative accommodation if the appeal were dismissed. He attached greater importance to the basic human requirement for housing than to the council's recreation strategy.

DCS Number 100-051-187

Inspector David Smith; Hearing.

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