Mini Farm appeal successful
|Author: John Riches||Published: 5th February 2018 19:33|
Mini Farm appeal successful. Photo courtesy Google Street View
Back in 2009 a family of local gypsies – unable to find space to live on an authorised site – bought land in Abthorpe Parish, moved their caravans in and named it Mini Farm. The family made a retrospective planning application for three mobile homes and a toilet block to be sited there. South Northamptonshire Council (SNC) approved the application in August that year and granted them permission to stay for three years.
In 2011 the family applied to make the planning permission permanent and requested that residence on their site should be restricted to gypsies in general rather than named individuals. SNC refused the application but on appeal a government inspector approved the application.
In 2015 the gypsy family made another planning application for a change of use of their land from agricultural to residential caravan site. This was refused by SNC and there was no appeal.
In 2016 the family made another application for change of use of their land. Abthorpe Parish Council plus Bradden and Slapton Parish Meetings objected to the proposals plus 8 residents from Abthorpe village, 3 from Foscote, 6 from Slapton and 11 from Bradden. Virtually all the comments opposed the application. SNC refused planning permission. There was an appeal.
Following a hearing and site visit on 9th January 2018 Mr David Murray – an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State – published his report on 30th January. The appeal was successful and planning permission was granted for the change of use of land from agricultural to allow the stationing of two caravans, the erection of a replacement amenity building and the laying of hard standing. His eleven page report makes interesting reading.
The inspector identified six main issues. Is the traveller site acceptable in this location? The need for such sites and the ability of SNC to deliver. The site’s effect on the area. Highway safety. The disposal of foul water and the gypsy family’s personal circumstances.
He concluded that there is an unmet need for a modest number of gypsy and traveller sites in South Northamptonshire District at the moment. Overall on character and appearance of the site he concluded that the additions proposed in the application would not have a harmful effect on the countryside of the area. Regarding highway safety he believed that the existing access to the site has reasonable visibility and would provide safe access. Regarding the disposal of foul water he was satisfied that the use of a small treatment works or a septic tank would be adequate and satisfactory in principle.
Although not queried by SNC, some of the representations made by the local settled community questioned the family’s status as gypsies and dispute their nomadic lifestyle. The inspector concluded that on the basis of oral and written evidence he was satisfied that the appellant and his extended family have a nomadic lifestyle. Further the best interests of the family’s children are best served by having a settled base from which they can continue their education locally and this was a factor to which he applied significant weight.
To end he stated that the application’s proposal was acceptable on its merits but he imposed a condition restricting the number of caravans to two and their occupation by gypsies and travellers only. Materials and waste on the site must be in storage containers to maintain the appearance of the site. The inspector stated that SNC and the local community say that any further approval could be repeated again and again. The Council would have control over .. the expansion of the site and any formal proposal would have to be considered on its individual merits .. relevant at that time.