Plans to turn paddock into travellers' site are thrown out

May 03 2022
Plans to turn paddock into travellers' site are thrown out

PLANS to turn a paddock between Winterbourne and Downend into travellers' pitches have been refused by South Gloucestershire Council.

The site at Bury Hill Lane, at Moorend, near Hambrook, has permission for use in agriculture and keeping horses.

An application to create pitches for two mobile homes and two touring caravans, along with two day rooms in permanent structures, was submitted last year by a firm of architects on behalf of applicant Dean Smith.

The plans received 276 objections from members of the public, with just one person writing in support.

Objections to the scheme ranged from concerns over harm to the Green Belt and biodiversity to an increase in traffic on nearby roads and "pressure on school intake".

Winterbourne Parish Council said it was making the "strongest objection" to the scheme, saying it was "contrary to both conservation and environmental policy" and would "spoil the local natural beauty and rural feel of the area".

The parish council said: "The application does not benefit the local area, nor serve to preserve or protect the natural environment. There is also the issue of the invasion of privacy for neighbouring properties. We would anticipate setting a dangerous precedent for future development leading to the destruction of the local habitat."

A trustee of the charity Empowering Futures, which runs the neighbouring Moorend Farm care farm – itself subject of a recent planning battle which the charity won – wrote to support the plans.

Maria Needs said a caravan park "with a huge carbon footprint" was already nearby and the impact of the pitches would be "no more than any of the stables in the area".

She said the application was for a "working man and his family" to live on land they already owned and added: "The objections raised on this application are both personal and shameful."

The entrance to the paddock

Council officers rejected the application using delegated powers, which meant it did not go before a planning committee.

They said the planned development would be "harmful to the setting and significance" of nearby Bury Hill Fort, a designated ancient scheduled monument.

They added: "The public benefits of the proposal do not clearly outweigh the harm."

Historic England had raised concerns over the effect of development near the Iron Age settlement, saying: "The proposal in our view will cause harm to the significance of a highly designated heritage asset."

The council said not enough information had been supplied on archaeology at the site, which meant it could not ensure any possible assets were protected.

Officers said the scheme "does not fall within the limited categories of development normally considered appropriate within the Green Belt," adding: "Whilst very special circumstances have been put forward, they are not considered to outweigh the harm identified."