Express & Star

Retrospective bid for residential caravan in countryside withdrawn hours before planning meeting

A retrospective application for a residential caravan in the countryside near Gnosall has been withdrawn – just hours before borough councillors were due to refuse permission.

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Stafford Borough Council

The application, which also sought permission for installation of a septic tank system, 2m high fence and outbuildings on land at Gnosall Road, Beffcote, was the only one set to be considered by Stafford Borough Council’s planning committee last Wednesday – its final meeting of 2023.

But councillors were told at the start of the meeting the application had been withdrawn earlier that day. It had been recommended for refusal by planning officers as the caravan, timber outbuildings and hardstanding were considered to be at odds with the open rural character of the area and “visually intrusive”.

An email sent to the council stated that the applicant had moved off the site and had a permanent address and so was no longer seeking permission to live in the caravan. The email added that he had buildings regulations approval for the septic tank.

The application, which dates back to 2021, had been called in by former councillor Mike Smith, before he stood down from the authority at May’s election. He said: “There appears to be no agricultural need demonstrated to justify residence on this site; the development will be incongruous to the area.”

A report to Wednesday’s planning committee meeting said: “There are several outbuildings on the site along with an agricultural building under construction and a caravan occupied as a residential unit. Vehicular access exists onto Befcote Road and a two-metre high fence has been constructed adjacent to the access with hedgerow along the remainder of the road frontage.

“A Lawful Development Certificate was granted in February 2018 for the siting of a non-residential caravan for use in association with the agricultural land. This was subsequently replaced with a further caravan which the applicant occupied as a residential dwelling.

“An Enforcement Notice was served dated 15 April 2021 requiring the removal of the residential caravan. The applicant appealed against the Notice, this was dismissed, and the Enforcement Notice was varied and upheld on 20 October 2021.

“The applicant owns approximately 100 sheep that lamb all year and 200 hens. The applicant owns and rents approximately 2.55 hectares for his sheep that consist of 1.02 hectares (2.52 acres) at Beffcote and 1.53 hectares (3.78 acres) he rents locally under a tenancy agreement for five years.

“Planning permission has been granted for an agricultural building on the land and construction is underway; once completed all machinery and storage will be moved into the shed and the existing smaller outbuilding will be removed. The existing buildings on the site are used for the storage of machinery and farming equipment and fodder and feed supplies for the sheep and chicken and medical supplies for the livestock.”

There were seven objections submitted to the council, stating that the residential caravan was not necessary, the sheep and chickens did not require 24-hour attendance and the sheds were not required as the barn was being built. But a letter of support said that there was no reason to object, the proposals were necessary to care for the animals and would support the economy by providing work for people.