Travellers’ appeal for Bury St Edmunds site should not be contested – councillors told

Travellers in Bury St Edmunds.

Travellers in Bury St Edmunds. - Credit: Archant

A planning application for a traveller family who have been searching for a permanent legal home in Bury St Edmunds for years could be approved at appeal.

The Delaney family applied for planning permission for five pitches on a site in Suffolk County Council owned woodland off Rougham Hill in February last year, but this was rejected by St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s development control committee due to loss of public woodland and being prejudicial to a then undecided masterplan application for the South-East Bury Strategic Site.

Since then the masterplan for 1,250 homes in the wider area, adjoining Rougham Hill and Rushbrooke Lane, has been approved, with a specific allowance for a gypsy and traveller site and the creation of more public woodland elsewhere on the site.

This prompted the Delaney family, who are currently at a temporary site off Compiegne Way, to appeal the decision to the planning inspectorate.

Michael Hargreaves, planning agent for the Delaney family, said: “We are making progress but it has been a particularly long process. We are very hopeful that the council will agree that it can no longer defend the reasons for refusal of planning permission.

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“As the report by the officers points out, they could be liable for our costs if they refuse the application without justified reasons.”

The borough council now has to decide whether to uphold their original decision, which would result in a hearing, or to tell the inspector their objections no longer stand.

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The council officer’s report to members of the planning committee, which will meet on Thursday, recommends withdrawing both objections.

The report stated: “(It is recommended) the committee confirm that, provided the mitigation measures recommended through the suggested conditions are put forward to the inspectorate, it no longer intends to pursue the defence of the appeal as both reasons for refusal have been superseded or overcome.”

If the committee follows the officer recommendations then it is likely the planning inspector will grant permission to the Delaney family, subject to conditions put forward by the borough council to mitigate against loss of mature trees. However, it will be entirely the inspector’s decision to make.

The original application for a change of use to residential and five traveller pitches was also recommended for approval but was rejected by councillors. There was widespread opposition from residents in the area, with more than 40 objections sent in.

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