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Let gypsy families move in for now, say council officers
NEW plans to create a travellers’ site in Flackwell Heath should be given the go ahead, according to council officers.
Wycombe District Council previously rejected plans for two gypsy families to move their caravans on to a derelict plant nursery at 128 Heath End Road, but planning officers believe a fresh scheme should be given temporary planning permission for three years.
The site is within the Green Belt, but officers say there are “very special circumstances” which override this concern.
More than 600 residents have opposed the scheme, along with Chepping Wycombe Parish Council and a campaign group called Flackwell Heath Residents Against Innappropriate Development [RAID].
The officers’ recommendation will go before the WDC’s planning committee on Wednesday next week, where councillors will aim to reach a decision.
The officers’ report says temporary permission would give the council time to draw up a five-year supply of gyspy and traveller sites, which it is required to do by the government.
It says there is no known alternative site for the families to go, while the plan would bring a previously developed site back into use.
Officers also considered the personal circumstances of the applicants – including their wish to access health services and schools in the village.
Two of the group, Gerard O'Connor and Patrick Murphy, breed horses and attend Gypsy fairs throughout the country, as well as carrying out landscaping work.
As previously reported by the Bucks Free Press, the families have been facing eviction from an unauthorised site in Walters Ash.
RAID said it was disappointed with the planning officers' report, adding in a statement: "We believe that the site is wholly unsuitable for the type of application sought, and that the enormous amount of objections from local residents reflects the strength of feeling from within the village and beyond.
"We hope that the councillors at the committee meeting will show an appreciation of the concerns raised, and that the voice of the local residents will be taken into account."
Last week WDC refuted claims that it has an 'open door policy for gypsies' - see related links.