Go-ahead for new gypsy site

PUBLISHED: 12:19 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 07:09 30 May 2010

A SITE on the edge of Dunmow has been given the green light to house gypsies, despite fierce opposition from town councillors. They had vehemently objected to planning permission for a family to keep their home on the green belt land at Willow Farm, just

A SITE on the edge of Dunmow has been given the green light to house gypsies, despite fierce opposition from town councillors.

They had vehemently objected to planning permission for a family to keep their home on the green belt land at Willow Farm, just off Braintree Road at the east side of the town.

Mayor Clive Smith believes the decision could set a precedent. He said: "I don't even believe the building to be a mobile home because it is made almost entirely of brick and wood. We have a real fear that this could lead to further sites placed around our town, or attract others to live on the site."

Uttlesford District Council's development control committee granted planning permission on the basis of the applicant being of gypsy origin, and that the home in question "still had its wheels on".

Their decision also falls in line with Government policy that the district provides between 15 and 25 specific sites for gypsies.

Planning officers said that, although planning permission would not be allowed in normal circumstances, an exception should be made because of the applicant's background.

UDC's head of planning control, Michael Ovenden, said: "There is a shortfall in gypsy pitches in the district and this site is well screened, has tall trees and is gated. This seems a good option because we want to get sites sorted quickly.

"Unless we accommodate them in urban areas, which I seriously doubt, gypsy sites will always be in the countryside and this is a neat and tidy site suitable for that use."

Councillors discussed putting a policy in place to determine sites to be allocated for gypsy use. Currently, each application is discussed on its own merit.

Committee chairman, Cllr Jackie Cheetham, said: "We have to look at the facts placed in front of us. This site could go towards our allocation and with this approval we can impose the necessary conditions to give us some control over what goes on at the site."

The application was granted with the conditions that the site is for personal use of the applicant only, that only one mobile home be located there, and that the site not be used for business purposes.

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