Mini Farm appeal successful.
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.