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Plans for new travellers' site in clay country rejected

Plans for new travellers' site in clay country rejected

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 7:40am 14th July 2020.

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Plans to create a new travellers’ site in clay country have been rejected and councillors have called for a review of policies around where they should be placed.

Mr Crocker had applied to Cornwall Council for a change of use of his land in Rescorla so that it could be used as a travellers’ site by his two sons.

The application went before the council’s central sub-area planning committee when it met this morning.

Under the plans  Mr Crocker wanted to have two static mobile homes, two touring caravans and two day rooms on the site.

Chris Montague, agent speaking on behalf of the applicants, explained that the site would be private and for the use of Mr Crocker’s two sons and their families. He explained that one family had two young children and the other had three.

But the plans had received a number of objections including from Treverbyn Parish Council which said that the area was already “saturated” with travellers’ sites.

Matt Luke, Cornwall councillor for the area, said that he was concerned that the majority of new travellers’ sites were being placed in Clay Country which already has a number of sites.

He claimed that 80% of the traveller sites which have been granted planning permission in Cornwall over the last 12 years were in the Clay Country area.

Planning officers had recommended the application for approval saying that there was an identified need for more traveller sites in Cornwall.

The committee heard that there is a need for 256 more pitches to be provided in Cornwall by 2030. However there is no requirement for those pitches to be distributed across Cornwall, only that there should not be a heavy concentration which would change the character of the area.

rescorla gypsy site
Aerial view of the land in Rescorla where a planning application has been submitted for a Romani Gypsy site (Image: Google)

Cllr Luke said that the proposed site in Rescorla was in open countryside and that a travellers’ site would be out of character in the small hamlet.

He said that he “strongly objected” to the plans and added: “There were no letters of support in any shape or form. A number of villagers are unable to object to this due to other circumstances.”

David Stevens, parish clerk for Treverbyn Parish Council, presented a statement on behalf of the council which had also lodged a strong objection.

He said: “A number of residents object to this development but are reluctant to voice their opinions in a public meeting.”

He added: “This application would have a dramatic impact on the character of this area.”

Cllr Luke said that there were also empty pitches available on several other sites in the Bugle and Penwithick area and suggested these should be used first before new ones were created.

Committee member Joanna Kenny said: “I am very unhappy about this, but I think the technical term is stuffed. The policy supports it, I don’t think we have any policy grounds on which to reject this.”

But John Fitter said: “I will not be supporting this application. We don’t have enough history about what is going on in this settlement. If there are all these vacant sites why is there a need for more.

“I am not convinced that we have a need for 256 pitches if we have these other vacant pitches.”

Councillor Mary May proposed that the application be refused on the grounds that it would have unacceptable impact on the character of the countryside.

Malcolm Brown said that there was a need to learn from the application and use it to help improve the council’s policy on traveller pitches.

He said: “We should have a review of the policy or we will continue to have applications like this come through and we will have difficult conversations like this.”

The proposal to refuse the application was agreed with 12 votes in favour, one against and two abstentions.

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