Travellers homes plan thrown out

By Dave GooderhamTRAVELLERS have vowed to launch an appeal after they were refused planning permission for 18 homes in the countryside.The travellers started work three months ago on building the homes on land they bought near the A1088 in Elmswell.

By Dave Gooderham

TRAVELLERS have vowed to launch an appeal after they were refused planning permission for 18 homes in the countryside.

The travellers started work three months ago on building the homes on land they bought near the A1088 in Elmswell.

They sought retrospective permission for the development and vowed yesterday to appeal after Mid Suffolk District Council refused to give them planning consent.


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That has left concerned residents, who voiced their fears to the council about the travellers' homes, faced with the prospect of having unwanted neighbours for up to a year.

One traveller, mother-of-three Emma Foster, whose son Levi has cerebral palsy, said they were upset, but not surprised by the council's decision.

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“I am very disappointed and, because of my son, I am terrified we are going to get rejected and have to move elsewhere. We feel it is unfair and we will definitely appeal,” she added.

“This home has been like a dream come true for my family and it would be heartbreaking if we were forced to leave. But we are a close-knit community and we will fight this decision together.”

Miss Foster said her son had now started at Elmswell Primary School and their new home was able to provide him with vital facilities to help his condition.

The travellers started work on the land three months ago before submitting a retrospective application to the council.

Members of the council's planning committee agreed to refuse the application yesterday, saying they had received “insufficient evidence”.

Prior to the meeting, the council was inundated with letters of complaint from residents in a host of neighbouring villages to the site, claming the plan could spark a crime increase and lead to environmental concerns.

The council also received more than 70 letters of objection and a 28-name petition from residents of White Elm Road in Woolpit.

Planning committee chairman, Stuart Gemmill, said: “The committee felt it was not given enough information about what was being proposed.

“I think the travellers are bound to appeal - it is their only option or they face eviction. There are a number of other sites underutilised in the area so there are spaces elsewhere.”

Now David Ruffley, the Bury St Edmunds MP, has called for changes to be made to the planning process and improved measures to find suitable homes for travellers.

Welcoming the council's decision, Mr Ruffley said: “I do not want a law imposing every local authority to provide sites for travellers, but there needs to be a constructive solution.

“Mid Suffolk District Council has a fairly small budget and this site could put a huge imposition on their resources.

“Instead there should be well-researched sites, which have gone through proper planning permission, in areas where there would not be a significant change in the character and where it would not upset villagers.”

Mr Ruffley added he was concerned that any appeal process would not be heard until the middle of next year.

A council spokesman said it would not make any decision about evicting the travellers until it was known whether the group would appeal.

dave.gooderham@eadt.co.uk

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