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PHOTOS: Travellers' bungalow gets green light

PHOTOS: Travellers' bungalow gets green light

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 4:05pm 6th August 2018. (Updated at 2:40pm 7th August 2018)

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

A family of travellers have been granted permission to continue living in a bungalow they built ten years ago without consent.

Planning permission for The Stables Caravan Park travellers’ site in Higher Fraddon was originally approved in 2008 allowing for five mobile homes, five touring caravans and for a “Nissen hut” to be used as a utility dayroom.

However the Jones family demolished the Nissen hut and instead built a bungalow, without planning permission, and have been living in it since 2009.

They were even granted planning consent in 2012 for a soft play room to be added to the building with the council under the impression that the building was still being used as a day room.

St Enoder Parish Council had objected to the new application which was looking to “regularise” the use of the building as a home.

Councillor Michael Bunyan urged Cornwall Council’s central sub-area planning committee to refuse planning permission when it met this morning.

travellers bungalow higher fraddon
The Stables Caravan Park, Higher Fraddon where the bungalow (to left of picture) was built. Credit @ Google

He said that the parish council was “very disappointed” that planning officers had recommended approval and said that Cornwall Council had “failed” to properly monitor what had been happening at the travellers’ site.

“The applicants didn’t convert the day room, they chose to construct a new building instead.

“In 2012 Cornwall Council allowed an extension to the so-called day room although it was being lived in at that point".

He added that complaints about the building being used as a home were “not properly investigated”.

The parish council was concerned that if planning was approved it could act as a precedent for day rooms on other sites to be converted into homes.

Councillor Bunyan added: “What will happen is more travellers come to this site and there is no day room? Will you allow more day rooms to be built and then let them to be converted into dwellings?”

Chris Montagu, a planning agent speaking on behalf of Mr and Mrs Jones, said that the home was in a “sustainable location” and that the building was a “high quality design”.

Committee member Martyn Alvey asked Mr Montagu: “Are the people living there now on the council tax register or are they living there on the free?”

travellers bungalow higher fraddon
The bungalow at The Stables Caravan Park, Higher Fraddon which was built without permission and lived in for nine years

After Mr Montagu explained that they had been living there since 2009, committee chair Jackie Bull told Cllr Alvey that the question could not be asked as it was not a planning consideration.

Cllr Alvey later said that he didn’t understand how someone who classed themselves as a traveller could live in a bungalow.

The planning report which went to the committee explained that there was no “explicit requirement” for “gypsy’traveller accommodation to be provided exclusively within mobile homes/caravans”.

However a condition has been placed on the property which restricts it for occupation by gypsies or travellers.

Several councillors raised concerns about the conditions on the site and asked for enforcement officers to look into what was happening on the site. The committee heard that work was “ongoing”.

“Something irregular has happened. If there were nothing there would the applicant be able to build a residential bungalow there?”

She added: “In all reasonableness I can’t see how I can’t support it, I don’t want to see a family made homeless. I will reluctantly feel I can support this application".

Committee member Dulcie Tudor

In a statement about the original application, Mr Jones told Pirate FM he felt they had done nothing wrong., 

"We've been paying Band C for this dwelling for nearly 10 years and also paying Band A rates for the caravan site, that is on the same property, for the last nearly 10 years.

"Nothing is free for this family. I hope people understand this. We have not built on the land for free. We pay for everything".

The committee approved the application with nine votes in favour, four against and one abstention.

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