Caergwrle Gypsy and Traveller site plans refused by councillors
Plans for a Gypsy and Traveller site in Flintshire have been refused due to concerns over how it would impact the countryside.
A partly retrospective application was submitted in October last year to allow Edward Purcell and his family to live on a site at Rhyddyn Hill in Caergwrle.
The proposals for two static caravan pitches and two day rooms were considered by councillors last week, approximately two years after they first moved onto the land.
A senior official from Flintshire Council had recommended permission should be given to allow the facilities to be retained.
However, the scheme was rejected by the majority of councillors on the local authority’s planning committee after neighbours and community leaders raised objections.
Speaking at the virtual meeting, Dale May, who owns a nearby caravan park, warned that giving the go ahead could cause upset among local residents.
He said: “The size of the applicant’s site has grown considerably since the last static caravan was there years ago.
“This is therefore a new development on green belt (land), not a change of use.
“Supporting this development would damage further the relationship between the Travellers, local residents and the local authority because we believe the location is wholly unsuitable.
“Not all the residents and some councillors have been able to express their objections openly.
“Flintshire Council and Welsh Government need to address this failure in the planning system – please refuse the application.”
The site is located in an area of open countryside and was previously used to house a single static caravan.
After it was vacated by the former owners, the land was targeted by fly-tippers who left a large amount of rubbish behind.
Andrew Farrow, the council’s chief planning officer, said the waste had since been cleared and the site would provide “an appropriate location for a permanent home”.
His recommendation was backed by Trevor Mennell, an agent acting on behalf of Mr Purcell.
He said: “The site is a small family site of two pitches, which was previously occupied by an unauthorised caravan which became vacant, was untidy and there was a lot of fly-tipping on site.
“The site was subsequently tidied up by the applicant to the gratitude of neighbours and the local councillors a like.
“The children currently attend the local school and the college and the family are very settled within the local community.”
But councillors said they were worried about the impact on the countryside, as well as raising concerns over sewage and gas supply issues.
Cllr Mike Peers said: “The issue we have here is we all want the Gypsy and Traveller community to have a settled base, but I think the consensus is that we need to have one in a location that doesn’t impact the countryside if possible.
“We have Gwern Lane and there’s this application – where next?
“I would hope the Gypsy and Traveller site community can find some sites that are sustainable and don’t impact on the countryside.”
The proposals were refused by eleven votes to three at the end of the debate.
Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).
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