More pitches allowed at traveller caravan site in South Staffordshire despite concerns

More pitches have been allowed at a gypsy and traveller caravan site in South Staffordshire – but a local councillor and residents have raised concerns about noise and disturbance.

South Staffordshire Council HQ
South Staffordshire Council HQ

The Green Belt land to the rear of Hordern Lodge in Ball Lane, Coven Heath, was already allocated for one gypsy and traveller pitch in South Staffordshire Council’s 2018 Site Allocations Document and permission was granted for two pitches in 2020. It adjoins the Hordern Lodge Mobile Home Park and an existing driveway will be used to access the new permanent pitches, which will enable the site to provide space for up to six caravans.

The application was approved by the council’s planning committee at its latest meeting. There were three objections from residents however, who said the applicants already caused disturbance with lorries and trailers and there were on-going disputes on the site, as well as potholes on the approach Hordern Park estate road.

A report to the planning committee said that one of the conditions of the 2020 consent limited occupation of the second pitch to the applicants’ granddaughter and her daughter. It added: “Reservation of a pitch for one granddaughter out of many has caused friction within the extended family.

“(The applicants) have six children all with families of their own. They have numerous grandchildren and great grandchildren, some of whom already need pitches as they form households of their own.

“In these circumstances, the applicant is reluctant to nominate particular grandchildren for special treatment. The extra pitches would no doubt be limited to occupation by gypsy and travellers under the legal planning definition and, the available pitches would then be allocated on a first come, first served basis to avoid any dispute as to who should occupy the new pitches.”

Ward Councillor Wendy Sutton said: “Neighbours have talked about noise they have experienced with the pitches on this location, about the traffic pollution and ongoing familial problems, constant disputes. These are things I’m quite concerned about.

“There have been some attempts to placate the neighbours but I cannot agree with the planning officers’ recommendation to approve. No very special circumstances have been expressed and they have not been demonstrated.”

But Councillor Victoria Wilson said: “I sympathise with Councillor Sutton’s concerns – she is representing her constituents. Unfortunately I don’t feel the objections we have received from neighbours are material planning considerations.

“Yes, there may be disputes on site and there may be potholes but I don’t know these are reasons for us to reject the application, as much as I feel for them. These children deserve somewhere settled.”

Councillor Penny Allen said: “I have taught Romany and traveller children and I can say to you there is a need for young children to have a settled existence. They make very rapid strides when they are given that benefit and it is not necessary to travel all the time.

“There is a benefit from being close to their family. Travellers and gypsies continue to be a disadvantaged minority.”

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