Mr & Mrs Cole
Retention of gypsy and traveller site for one pitch in addition to its lawful use as a timber yard with paddocks.
Retention of gypsy and traveller site for one pitch in addition to its lawful use as a timber yard with paddocks
Cllr Louisson left the committee to speak as the local ward councillor.
The Principal Planning Officer introduced the application which proposed the siting of a static mobile caravan, in addition to a touring caravan.
The distance between the static caravan and the rear elevation of the neighbouring property, Highgate House, was 60m. Concerns had been received regarding odour and noise, however, a septic tank was intended to be connected for permanent use and whilst there had been conflicting information regarding the use of a generator on the site, this was not a planning consideration and any queries should be directed to Environmental Health.
The site could be glimpsed from Lyeway Lane, particularly in the Winter months. However, during the Summer months, boundary hedging created solid screening. There would be some visual impact when viewed from a public footpath and a ‘key vista’ as identified in the emerging Ropley Neighbourhood Plan, but it was not considered to have an unacceptable harmful impact.
In terms of the principle of development, the proposal complied with Policy CP15 and the site was considered to be suitable for a permanent gypsy pitch, despite the fact the site is outside of, but close to the Settlement Policy Boundary (SPB) of Ropley. Government guidance required Councils to maintain a five-year supply of deliverable land for traveller pitches. The Council had recently published its Gypsy Traveller Accommodation Assessment that identified a need for 19 pitches by 2022. Currently, EHDC was only able to demonstrate a 1.04-year supply. In addition to the identified need, the 2011 Census ascertained that there were 92 ethnic travellers living in bricks and mortar accommodation in East Hampshire, which would generate an unknown need in addition to the 19.
The applicants had a clear connection to Ropley, with their daughter attending a local school. Given the lack of culturally suitable alternative accommodation, the proposal would meet a clear need and the site was considered appropriate in scale and location relative to the settlement.
The recommendation was for permission.
The committee was addressed by the following deputees:
(1) Mr Dyer spoke on behalf of objectors to the application.
· This was an unlawful regularisation application;
· The site was outside the SPB, in the countryside and next to a commercial property;
· It was clearly visible from the footpath;
· It had not been put forward when there was a call for gypsy and traveller sites and therefore, it was not urgently needed as a gypsy and traveller site;
· Alternative accommodation was available;
· The applicant had held the same landline since 2011;
· The timber shed had a large amount of machinery that was nothing to do with that business and was unlawfully on site;
· There was no mains drainage and there was no confidence this would be put in place;
· The generator had been running at all hours; and
· There were clear views in to the site.
(2) Cllr Nops spoke on behalf of Ropley Parish Council.
As set out in Appendix 5 attached to these minutes.
(3) Mr Andrews spoke as the agent for the application.
· The applicant had existing services for electricity on the site. Water was collected in a churn and there was an existing septic tank which would be connected to the water service;
· Screening would be retained and enhanced by condition;
· The applicant had met the legal definition of a Romany Gypsy;
· There was a deficiency in gypsy and traveller sites, this would contribute towards the provision;
· The applicant was unable to access suitable alternative sites and would be rendered homeless;
· Any harm identified had to outweigh the needs of the children – their daughter attended a local school;
· There had been no objection from statutory consultees other than the parish council; and
· There was a genuine need for traveller sites.
(4) Cllr Louisson spoke as the local ward councillor.
As set out in appendix 6 attached to these minutes.
Further to points raised during the deputations, the Principal Planning Officer advised that the comparison with reference to the Liphook appeal decision was that the site was relatively close to a SPB.
The committee discussed the application. The Principal Planning Officer said that legal advice and appeal decisions confirmed that the applicant stating they had an intention to travel was sufficient evidence to confirm they complied with the definition of a gypsy as set out in government guidance. The intention to travel did not have to be purely for economic purposes.
Some councillors noted from the recent site visit that it was apparent it would not be possible to see the caravans during the Summer months and therefore, they would be of no major detriment to the landscape. Condition 5 related to details of a planting scheme and could be altered so that that hedging along the western boundary be substantiated to help screen the site during the Winter.
Should the application be approved, it was requested that a condition be added that the static caravan be painted green. Whilst the application had made no reference to floodlighting, it was also requested that a further condition be added to ensure there was no floodlighting of the site.
In response to a question raised as to whether an amenity building was a necessity, the Principal Planning Officer advised there was no requirement for one and one had not been applied for.
At the invitation of the Chairman, Cllr Louisson summed up for a further minute.
Cllr Louisson said this was a mixed-use site and was contrary to policy.
As Cllr Louisson had taken the opportunity to speak again, an additional minute was offered to the other public speakers.
Mr Dyer, on behalf of objectors, felt that this was an unsuitable site which his clients would have to live with for the rest of their lives. He did not believe that EHDC were so short on gypsy and traveller sites.
Mr Andrews, the agent for the application, confirmed that the site was not mixed use, the timber yard was a separate planning unit. Any concerns raised regarding odours would be resolved by connecting to a septic tank.
The Solicitor clarified that the timber yard was a separate planning unit and that this was not a mixed-use site.
The committee voted on the officer’s recommendation for permission subject to conditions being added regarding screening to the West of the site being substantiated, the caravans being painted green and no floodlighting
Following the vote, the recommendation was declared CARRIED, 7 Councillors voting FOR permission, 3 Councillors voting AGAINST permission and 1 Councillor ABSTAINING from voting.
Cllr Louisson re-joined the meeting.
Cllr Johnson left the meeting.
The meeting adjourned at 10.15pm.
The meeting reconvened at 10.18pm.