Posted: Fri 17th Dec 2021

Hope Traveller site expansion plans approved despite overdevelopment concerns

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Friday, Dec 17th, 2021

Plans to extend a Traveller site in Flintshire have been approved despite concerns it will lead to “overdevelopment”.

An application was considered this week to increase the size of a caravan site on Gwern Lane in Hope to provide six pitches.

Permission was already in place for four households to be accommodated at White Acres Caravan Site but the family which lives there said it had become “too cramped”.

A total of 16 letters of objections were received against the proposals amid concerns over the scale of the site, extra traffic, sewage problems and alleged anti-social behaviour issues.

However, Flintshire Council’s planning committee supported the scheme after officers urged caution over comments made by some members during Wednesday’s (December 15, 2021) meeting.

It followed fears being voiced that the application would lead to existing residents being outnumbered by Travellers.

Speaking at the start of the debate, Hope councillor Gladys Healey said: “There is a lot of anti-social behaviour there, and I was rung this morning because a dog ran out and bit somebody and bit their dog as well.

“The police have been down there umpteen times because of anti-social behaviour.

“Can you also please clarify for me if there is a septic tank there as we’ve been having a sewage problem.

“I totally agree with the residents that the Travellers are going to outnumber the number of residents in Gwern Lane and I ask that this is rejected.”

The council’s chief planning officer said in a report that the application would provide families living at the site with a settled base to meet the health and educational needs of their children.

Andrew Farrow added there was “no evidence” to support claims of anti-social behaviour problems.

But Cllr Richard Jones said he believed the proposals would have a harmful impact on the area.

He said: “There comes a point when the Traveller element grows greater than the settled residents which will change the area significantly.

“I would say that it does create harm and there is an issue with this.”

Officers responded that the possibility of existing residents being outnumbered was not an issue the committee should consider.

Andy Roberts, head of planning policy, said: “Gypsies and Travellers are just a just a group in our society who are seeking residential accommodation in the same way as anyone else in society does.

“It’s a difficult concept and there isn’t any policy because it would be discriminatory if Planning Policy Wales suddenly distinguished between Travellers and the settled community.”

Cllr Patrick Heesom said comments about discrimination were “irrelevant” as members were mainly concerned about the size of the site.

Cllr Healey also dismissed the officer’s remarks and said her reservations were about the suitability of the location.

She said: “I am totally sympathetic with the Travellers as they need somewhere to live.

“Who knows more about prejudice than me? That’s why I am the first BAME councillor in Flintshire.”

Cllr Healey proposed the plans should be rejected on the grounds it would cause overdevelopment and sewage issues.

However, the application was approved after only two committee members voted for refusal, with eight against and three abstentions.

Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter (more here).

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