Widespread objection to plan for gypsy and traveller site in green belt

Multiple objections have been received for a gypsy and traveller site near Little Houghton in Barnsley.
Multiple objections have been received for a gypsy and traveller site near Little Houghton in Barnsley.
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More than 100 objections have been received by planners who will decide next week whether to grant permission for a new gypsy and traveller site in a Barnsley village, with questions also raised by the authorities over the proposed use of the green belt site.

Barnsley Council's planning board is being asked to grant permission for the site close to the village of Little Houghton, which would have 11 pitches capable of accommodating ten static caravans and up to 17 touring caravans on land off Middlecliffe Lane.

The development would mean the construction of a new six metre wide access road, turning head and parking spaces, along with buildings needed on site and “other domestic paraphernalia”, according to a report to councillors who will make the decision.

There have been 102 individual letters objecting to the proposal, with Billingley Parish Council also raising a list of concerns about the potential impact of the site.

Yorkshire Water has also objected and Barnsley Council’s highways department have recommended that the application is refused on safety grounds.

Overall, planners are recommending the application is refused, telling councillors the development “would have a significant and harmful effect on openness through the site conflicting with the aims of national green belt planning policy”.

The council has already had to conduct enforcement action as a result of work being done to what would be the access road to the site, without permission in place.

Specialists have identified a range of issues with the application, however, including the council’s biodiversity officer, who states a report submitted with the application “does not adequately assess nearby habitats, boundary vegetation, or provide suitable mitigation”.

Billingley Parish Council have argued the site is in an unsuitable location and an inappropriate use of green belt land, while also harming the setting of the Billingley Conservation Area.

They also accuse the application of being “misleading” with an expectation that actual occupancy would exceed the 11 plots in the application.

Yorkshrie Water say some of the caravan plots would be over a public sewer, which could “seriously jeopardise Yorkshire Water’s ability to maintain the public sewerage network and is not acceptable,” the planning board will hear.

The application argues that special circumstances exist to justify the creation of the site, an argument which can be used to successfully override green belt planning restrictions.

Families living on another nearby site, Ings Road, which has previously been affected by flooding would be able to move to the new site, removing the fears they experience about a repeat of damage to their homes in future.

But planners say that argument loses credibility because the same ‘special circumstances’ argument was used to help justify the creation of another site a few miles away, at Burntwood Cottages.

Planners tell councillors in their summary: “In the absence of a clear explanation as to why any vulnerable residents were left behind on the Ings Road when the Burntwood Cottages site was developed it is unclear what level of weight should be afforded to this point, or whether this is an attempt to reuse the same argument on a problem that has already been dealt with.”

The planning board meets on Tuesday.