82-year-old’s dream of living with her traveller family at a site in Elm is dashed by the council

These photos were submitted as part of Esther Smith's planning application to turn a paddock at the

These photos were submitted as part of Esther Smith's planning application to turn a paddock at the rear of Newbridge Caravan Park on New Bridge Lane into a site for eight mobile homes and eight touring caravans to house her traveller family. - Credit: Archant

An 82-year-old traveller who dreamt of having her family live together at a site in Elm has had that dream dashed by Fenland Council.

These photos were submitted as part of Esther Smith's planning application to turn a paddock at the

These photos were submitted as part of Esther Smith's planning application to turn a paddock at the rear of Newbridge Caravan Park on New Bridge Lane into a site for eight mobile homes and eight touring caravans to house her traveller family. - Credit: Archant

Esther Smith, of Potton, Bedfordshire, applied to the council to turn a paddock she owned at the rear of Newbridge Caravan Park on New Bridge Lane into a site for eight mobile homes and eight touring caravans to house her family, who she says are currently homeless.

However, the council’s planning committee rejected the application last Wednesday (11), saying the site is unsustainable, does not have convenient public access and would create an “urbanising effect” on the area.

Letters to the council from Grahame Seaton Design, who submitted the application on Mrs Smith’s behalf, said: “All the named families are relations of Mrs Smith and are homeless. The dream is for them all to locate to this site and live together.

These photos were submitted as part of Esther Smith's planning application to turn a paddock at the

These photos were submitted as part of Esther Smith's planning application to turn a paddock at the rear of Newbridge Caravan Park on New Bridge Lane into a site for eight mobile homes and eight touring caravans to house her traveller family. - Credit: Archant

“The families have literally been on the move, not being able to settle for the last three to four years.


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“Newbridge Lane would be a base where they can settle and let their children attend local schools and for those who need attend local health centres. The able men would still be able to travel to work on local farms etc.”

But the council said the site, which already houses 24 caravans, is in an unsustainable location due to a lack of public transport or cycle routes.

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It also said the proposal hasn’t proved the need for the pitches and that adding 16 more mobile homes would not abide by the council’s local plan, which “seeks to protect local distinctiveness and character” of the area.

“The application is deemed to be acceptable in terms of regular planning matters, such as the impact on the character of the area and neighbour amenity. However, extensive discussions with the applicant’s agent were necessary to clarify the information necessary to satisfy the need for further travellers pitches.

“The case officer believes that adequate clarification has not been received and is therefore not satisfied that there’s a need for further pitches in the district,” said the report.

Elm Parish Council had no objection to the plans on the understanding that there would be no expansion in the future.

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