Traveller’s appeal for caravan site plans in the Fens refused by government inspector
PUBLISHED: 17:32 11 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:32 11 March 2020
A traveller trying to create a static caravan site where his family can live together in the Fenland countryside has had his appeal refused by the planning inspectorate.
Andrew Smith wants to renovate a site on the outskirts of Benwick to accommodate eight static caravans for himself, his two sisters and five daughters to live in.
The original application explains Mr Smith is keen to create a 'settled lifestyle' for his family at the location, called 'Crazy Acres' off Chase Road.
But Fenland District Council refused the application because the site was located in a high risk flood area and because of its impact on the countryside.
While planners were satisfied Mr Smith is of English Romany Gypsy heritage, evidence about the status of each family member had not been provided.
Jeremy Sargent, an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State, assessed all of their personal situations.
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He found Mr Smith's sisters had been living at a council-owned gypsy traveller site and had not travelled for a long time. It was also noted that two of Mr Smith's daughters are not yet adults.
In his report, dated February 20, Mr Sargent said: 'On the evidence before me I am satisfied that the appellant and his immediate dependents, along with his two married children and their families fall under the definition of a gypsy and traveller found in Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (PPTS).
'However the two other family members do not appear to have travelled for a long time and I have no reason to consider this is just a temporary cessation. Therefore they fall outside of the PPTS definition.'
He also agreed that 'harm would be caused to the character and appearance of the area' and the site has a 'high probability of flooding'.
He added: 'At the outset I have regarded no other consideration as more important than the best interests of the children or, in advance of the subsequent assessment of the individual circumstances, I have given none greater weight.
'However, these best interests will not always outeight other considerations including those that impact negatively on the environment.'
He added: 'I have nonetheless kept the best interests of the children at the forefront of my mind in reaching my decision.'
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