CONTENTIOUS plans for yet another gypsy site in Temple Grafton have been thrown out by councillors.
Members of Stratford District Council’s planning committee refused to grant plans for a gypsy pitch with two caravans – one stationary and one touring – as well as a day room, on land adjoining Greenways in Arden’s Grafton Road at a meeting on Wednesday (June 7).
The committee argued the site of the proposed pitch fell directly in between the two conservation areas of the historic villages of Arden’s Grafton and Temple Grafton, and that these areas should be protected.
This was despite a recommendation to grant the application by planning officers on the grounds of a significant lack of gypsy and traveller accommodation in the district.
A report which went before the committee stated: “The severity of the current shortfall is significant and in the absence of any evidence to demonstrate it would be addressed in the near future, it must carry substantial weight.”
The latest Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment Update carried out in 2019 concluded that the need within the district for the period 2019 to 2035 was 59 additional pitches. Since that time just ten new pitches have been delivered.
A gypsy site already exists in Temple Grafton and an extension to this site was granted by SDC last August.
There was a raft of opposition in the village to yet another proposed gypsy site including from former ward member Coun Mark Cargill and Temple Grafton Parish Council, while there were also 31 letters of objection submitted to SDC.
Objections included harm to the landscape, highways safety concerns, it would not meet identified housing need, the number of pitches in the village was disproportionate to the number of dwellings – now standing at 13, and there was no benefit to the community.
There was one letter in support of the planning application, which stated the applicant was without a permanent site due to the shortfall in the supply of sites in the district.
Speaking at the meeting, Coun Anne Parry said: “This is a very very challenging application before us. The biggest issue for me is the gap between the two villages. Once it is gone, it is gone. It would be of far less concern if the application site was immediately adjacent to the existing gypsy site as it would retain that gap.”
She added: “The Graftons have a phenomenal heritage and character and we need to do all we can to protect the gap between the two.
“I am going to propose we refuse this application. I acknowledge we have a shortfall but one pitch against 59 isn’t going to make a indent at all. We need to be supporting the villagers.”
But Coun Dave Passingham was in favour of granting the application.
He said: “It is always going to be difficult to find traveller sites. There are always going to be objections. But this one is not very visible, not very obtrusive to the rights of way and to my mind, the benefits outweigh the harm.”
Members of the planning committee voted to refuse the planning application, eight votes to four.