TRAVELLERS have been given permission to permanently stay on green belt land in Flackwell Heath, despite a lengthy campaign from concerned neighbours.
Wycombe District Council previously refused to allow a family of travellers to occupy green belt sites in Flackwell Heath and Walters Ash.
However, after an inquiry led by the Secretary of State, the group have been given permanent permission to use a former plant nursery in Heath End Road and have also been given temporary permission to use land outside RAF Air Command in Walters Ash.
In the appeal response, it said: “The Secretary of State agrees that the impact of the Appeal B proposal on openness would be limited.
“He also agrees that, by extending the built form into the countryside, the development would conflict with the green belt purpose of assisting in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment; but that, given that the site was previously in use as a nursery, the harm would be very limited and so carries only a little additional weight against the development.”
Flackwell Heath RAID (Residents Against Inappropriate Development), a group set up to protect the green belt in the area, have said they are “extremely disappointed” by the decision.
The group, whose members wish to remain anonymous, said: “Over 600 residents voiced their concerns over the two planning applications, along with the Parish Council and the Residents' Association objecting to inappropriate development on the green belt.
“Our MP Dominic Grieve also took time to visit the area. Despite this, permission for a permanent traveller’s site has been granted on the green belt which was designated specifically to limit the expansion of development, in particular inappropriate development.”
They added: “Flackwell Heath RAID was established to provide a voice for ‘Residents Against Inappropriate Development’ with the aim of preventing inappropriate development in the village, and not to prevent travellers residing on appropriate sites.
“It will take considerable work to make this site habitable and we now hope and expect that WDC's Enforcement Department will work closely with the travellers to ensure that all conditions detailed in the planning permission are met.
“Although we still consider this development to be totally inappropriate, Flackwell Heath RAID accepts the legal decision of the Secretary of State, and hopes the travellers will respect our customs and values, just as we will respect theirs.”
The original application for the Flackwell Heath site was launched by Gerard O’Connor who is related by marriage to Patrick Murphy who applied for the Walters Ash land.
The Murphy’s have been given temporary permission for four months in Parkwood, Walters Ash.
The applications include plans for a gypsy/ traveller site including the stationing of two mobile homes and two touring caravans and the erection of a day/utility room.
There are also a number of conditions with the permission which include not being able to have more than four caravans and that work needs to begin within the next three years.
The families believed to soon be occupying land in Flackwell Heath and Walters Ash were not contactable.