18th Sep, 2020

Anger as travellers site on Studley and Redditch border approved

Ross Crawford 23rd Jul, 2020

“IT’S an outrage” – that’s the verdict from local leaders after planners approved a Gypsy Traveller camp on Green Belt land between Redditch and Studley.

And they fear the decision, by Stratford district councillors, will set a precedent for further incursions into the Green Belt.

“This is an all-round disaster,” said Warwickshire County Councillor Clive Rickhards (Lib Dem, Studley).

“There has been an illegal seizure of a piece of land and I am not convinced by the ‘special circumstances’ put forward.”

To compound the issue local district councillor Peter Hencher-Serafin (Lib Dem, Studley and Mappleborough Green) an opponent of the plan and a member of the planning committee that granted it permission ‘forgot’ to register to speak at the meeting.

And although a statement was read out on his behalf, because he had already made his views plain on the issue, he was told he couldn’t vote.

In the end it was a split vote with committee chair Coun Andrew Crump (Con, Southam) using his casting vote to approve the application.

The travellers, who own the land in question, moved onto the Redditch Road site, by the Redditch borough border in June last year, removing a section of hedge and laying a gravel driveway and erecting a wooden gate.

They then applied for retrospective planning permission for a residential caravan site for two pitches, package treatment plant, utility blocks, storage sheds and dog runs.

More than 60 letters of objections were sent to Stratford planners. Studley Parish Council also objected.

However the meeting took into account two special circumstances – the first, that Stratford should have, but had failed, to make provision for traveller camps in the district.

The second was that one of the travellers needed to be near medical facilities.

Officers also pointed out that refusal to grant permission might infringe the Traveller family’s human rights.

Temporary planning permission was granted for three years from July 2020, however local councillors acknowledge there are no known circumstances where temporary had not become permanent.

One parish councillor said: “It’s an absolute outrage. Granted, these people have to live somewhere, and travelling is their lifestyle, but Stratford should have provided dedicated pitches for travellers years ago and has singularly failed to do so.”

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