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Travellers Site Planning Application: Update Jan 2017

posted 20 Jan 2017, 10:28 by M Bain   [ updated 4 Mar 2017, 09:29 ]

Planning Application P160238/F - Land at Oak Tree View, Beggars Ash, Wellington Heath

Change of use of land from agricultural to a one family traveller site including stationing of two mobile homes, 2 touring caravans, treatment plant, sheds and associated parking/turning/hardstanding and new access.

This planning application was submitted in January 2016 to develop a caravan site for an extended family of Romany Gypsies in a small field off Beggars Ash. The site lies on the boundary of the parish and of the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), just before the sign for Wellington Heath village.

Numerous objections were submitted from parishioners and from both the Wellington Heath Parish Council and Ledbury Town Council. A much smaller number of representations of support for the application were also made, but the majority were from outside the parish and simply commented on the hardworking nature and good character of the applicant family.

The main concerns of parishioners related to the adverse impact of the development on the landscape and AONB. We did not want our wish to establish a strategic gap of open countryside between the village and Ledbury, as confirmed by consultations on our Neighbourhood Development Plan, to be ignored. The proposal was contrary to the existing pattern of development and would have stood out as an undesirable and undistinguished collection of caravans or mobile homes in a sensitive and high quality landscape. There would be a need to import a large volume of fill material to level the site and construct the entrance track that would destroy existing habitats and permanently change the nature of the site. Other concerns were expressed about the site lighting, sewage disposal arrangements, access, removal of hedgerow and the traffic hazards along Beggars Ash.

One further issue that was raised by objectors was whether the applicant family could still be regarded as travellers under the terms of the Government’s definition in its policy document Planning Policy For Traveller Sites and as established in case law.

Lobbying of members of the Planning Committee was undertaken on all of these issues prior to the meeting to decide the application.

Herefordshire Council’s planning officers clearly had difficulty in preparing a report on whether or not the application for planning permission should be approved. The application finally came before the Council’s Planning Committee on 18 January 2017 with a recommendation for approval.

At the meeting, a member of the Parish Council and a representative of the objectors spoke against the application and urged the Committee to refuse it. Our Herefordshire Ward Councillor, Liz Harvey, gave a powerful but well balance speech that ended with a request for refusal.  These speakers proved influential and after a good debate the Committee refused planning permission.

This may not be the end of the matter as the applicant has a right of appeal to the Planning Inspectorate so we need to be vigilant and prepared to fight on. It also shows the importance of formally adopting our Neighbourhood Development Plan as soon as possible in order to protect that area of countryside.


(Contact details for the planning officer Mr Fernando Barber-Martinez can be found on the Herefordshire Council website together with information about the planning application:  https://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/info/200142/planning_services/planning_application_search/details?id=160238&search=160238