Travellers' site plan for Willenhall Green Belt land is thrown out

Plans to create a new travellers’ site on Green Belt land in Willenhall to meet a growing need have been thrown out.

Wood Farm Cottage off Willenhall Road in Willenhall. Photo: Google.
Wood Farm Cottage off Willenhall Road in Willenhall. Photo: Google.

Walsall Council planners rejected the proposal by applicant Mr R Lee to build five pitches on the land at Wood Farm Cottage in Willenhall Road.

Authority officers said the development would be inappropriate for the green belt while the site also fell within the Cannock Chase Special Area of Conservation and no information had been offered regarding the impact this would have on that.

They also raised concerns about potential risks from past coal mining activity, and a failure to provide up-to-date information on the presence of bats and protected species.

Other reasons for refusal included impact of traffic, potential ground contamination and insufficient information on air quality issues.

Under the plans, each pitch would have had space for a static caravan, touring caravan and day room, which would be used for additional purposes such as storage.

Last year Walsall Council opened its own transit site in Pleck which can cater for up to six caravans.

But developers said there was a desperate need for more facilities following dozens of unauthorised encampments in recent years.

Peter Brownjohn, of agents WS Planning and Architecture, said: “It is considered that there is an identified unmet need within the borough.

“The site is well situated, both in terms of its relationship to the nearest settlement and developed areas, as well as in terms of its accessibility and the availability of services.

“Most gypsy and traveller developments do not need to be as sustainably located as housing for the settled population.

“The nomadic lifestyle of gypsies and travellers obviously involves travelling for both economic and other purposes, towing their caravan.

“This involves the use of a private vehicle irrespective of location and so, whilst travelling, the same opportunities for using public transport simply do not apply."

He added: “When away travelling, it will be necessary to access services and facilities wherever they are, rather than leaving and returning to the site on a daily basis for work.

“In terms of needing to access services and facilities including schools and medical establishments, the availability of these within a reasonable travelling distance is critical.

“In this case, the reasonable proximity to local schools, doctors and shops will certainly encourage shorter car journeys.

“In this case, the family would be able to access services and facilities irrespective of whether or not they are currently travelling or have ceased travelling for a temporary period due to children.

“There remains a substantial unmet need within the borough. The proposal as submitted represents a modest scale five pitch gypsy/traveller site, that would greatly assist in meeting the immediate needs of the applicant group, not to mention contributing to the supply of pitches within the borough.”

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