Family granted permission to live on field despite almost 400 objections

A family has been granted permission to live on a field 10 years after their first request was refused – despite objections from almost 400 people.

The junction of the A518 Newport Road and Radmore Lane, near Gnosall
The junction of the A518 Newport Road and Radmore Lane, near Gnosall

Just one vote decided the fate of the latest application from the Lee family to live on land they own at Radmore Lane, Gnosall.

The application was recommended for approval by planning officers at Stafford Borough Council ahead of Wednesday’s meeting and four members voted in its favour, with four against.

Councillor Gareth Jones used his casting vote to approve the land’s change of use to a private Romany Gipsy site for the family of eight, including three children.

The consent allows two mobile homes and four touring caravans, as well as construction of a day room. But objectors said the proposals sought more than was previously requested, when plans for one gipsy pitch, hard standing and a utility and day room were turned down in May 2012.

Stafford Borough Council received 392 objections to the latest application, including four from outside the area. Gnosall Parish Council was among the objectors and concerns raised included road safety, development of greenfield land and the location more than a mile away from limited village services.

Parish councillor Roger Greatorex, who spoke against the plans at Wednesday’s meeting, said: “It’s outside the settlement boundary as defined in the Neighbourhood Plan and it’s in open countryside. The applicant has not demonstrated a need to develop the site and the parish council see no reason for the application to be approved.

“The applicant is already housed on a site in Telford and it is believed the family have no connections with the area and have no need of a site in Staffordshire. The parish council is concerned if the family have children of school age the primary school in Gnosall is at capacity with a waiting list.

“The current application is twice the size of the previous application. And there is local concern conditions will be ignored as the applicant commenced groundwork prior to approval.”

The old application was considered in accordance with policies contained in a previous version of the borough’s Local Plan, committee members were told. This was succeeded by a newer Local Plan in 2014 – and the borough currently does not have a five-year supply of pitches to meet the needs of travelling communities.

But ward councillor Patrick Farrington said that there was a potential supply of at least 25 pitches to be developed in the borough however. And fellow ward councillor Mike Smith said it was Telford & Wrekin Council’s responsibility to find space for the family.

The council received six letters of support for the application. And Gnosall resident Kayleigh Newman spoke in favour of the proposals at Wednesday’s meeting.

She said: “This application gives a chance to provide secure and safe accommodation for a homeless child. The family are currently severely overcrowded on their existing pitch, to the point certain members are roadside homeless.

“This will provide dual benefit of appropriate accommodation for this family and will free up a pitch that can be taken up by another homeless family. There is no evidence to suggest allowing the development will result in negative impact on the community – Mrs Lee has taken a large proportion of her time to rid the land of fly tipping.

“I can only assume the high level of opposition is in ignorance and lack of understanding towards gypsy communities. This can only be improved by allowing this family to create a safe and secure home in this village where they can thrive.”

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