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Gypsy families' Flackwell Heath plans rejected
PLANS put forward by two Gypsy families to move onto land in Flackwell Heath have been thrown out.
The proposals submitted by the travellers to move their caravans onto a derelict plant nursery were rejected by Wycombe district Council's planning committee last night.
As previously reported by the Bucks Free Press, the families have been facing eviction from an unauthorised site in Walters Ash.
The group, which includes five adults and three children, hoped to make a permanent home at 128 Heath End Road in order to access health and education services.
They proposed putting two mobile homes there along with a day room and hardstanding.
However, planning officers had recommended the application be refused and councillors were in unanimous agreement that it should go no further.
There were over 500 objections registered.
Councillor David Johncock said: "I think the reasons set out in the reports are perfectly valid reasons for coming to the conclusion to reject the plan."
Officers said in their report that the plan would represent inappropriate development in the greenbelt and have a detrimental impact on openness, on protected trees and also on rural amenities and the character of the countryside.
Councillor Sebert Graham said: "To grant this application would be a mistake, firstly is not in keeping with the surrounding area."
He expressed concerns about the safety and cleanliness of the site, which he said needed to be addressed.
Councillor Richard Scott said there were no special circumstances to justify developing on greenbelt.
The proposal stated that the two families would effectively live as one extended family, saying there are closely related.
WS Planning & Architecture, which is based in Surrey, submitted the scheme on behalf of travellers.
The application said two of the group, Gerard O'Connor and Patrick Murphy, breed horses and attend Gypsy fairs throughout the country.
It added: “When they travel they take their touring caravans. When they are not horse trading/breeding they carry out landscaping works.
“They have tried living in bricks and mortar but it does not suit their lifestyle which involves travelling.
“They rent land elsewhere in the district for the grazing of horses although they have no formal tenancy for this land.”
The travellers, outlining their reasons as to why they need to move the site, stated the fact that Patrick Murphy is suffering from diabetes and heart disease and needs regular and proper medical care, while his son is disabled with cerebral palsy and also requires constant care.
However the officers said these factors would only give limited weight in their application and said Flackwell Heath, where a doctor's surgery closed down early this year, would not be best placed to offer the essential medical care the family needs.
Their application said the Local Plan for the district fails to identify suitable locations for traveller sites, adding there is a “backlog of unmet need”.
Although this was considered, ultimately it was not considered a strong enough reason.
Chipping Wycombe parish Council had also objected to the plan saying it was unacceptable.