Travellers’ site that MP Liz Truss cautioned West Norfolk Council to take note of ‘high level of correspondence’ opposed it to gets the thumbs down

The disused paddock at Wheatley Bank, Walsoken, that has been rejected by West Norfolk Council for a

The disused paddock at Wheatley Bank, Walsoken, that has been rejected by West Norfolk Council for a travellers' site. PHOTO: Submitted - Credit: Archant

A bid to turn a paddock at Walsoken into a travellers’ camp with 12 mobile homes and 12 caravans has been rejected after a nine month campaign – that included 47 letters of objection - to halt it.

Such was the outcry that SW Norfolk MP Liz Truss was dragged into the row and although not publicly opposed to it urged West Norfolk to “consider the impact” on the community if they recommended it for approval.

West Norfolk Council has now ruled the Wheatley Bank site is “not appropriate” on grounds of access and sustainability. The council also argued the district had a shortfall of only five pitches in the area to 2036 and there was “no overriding need” to allow an exception.

It would be, concluded the officer who recommended it for approval, an “alien element” to the landscape and harmful to rural amenity. The council accepted the argument of there being a “general presumption against” such development in the countryside.

Ms Truzz had reminded the council of the “high level of correspondence” about the bid for 12 pitches.

“I would urge the council to fully consider all the points raised and to note the impact on the local community,” she said.

In a letter to the council she also says the council needs to consider “development in rural areas, as directed in the government’s planning policy”.

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Change of use of paddock land to the west of Wheatley Bank to allow for 12 travellers’ pitches, was put to West Norfolk planners by Christine Harrison.

Many residents fired off protest letters and begun a campaign to halt it.

West Walton Parish Council wanted it turned down on the grounds that “there is sufficient existing provision in the area for traveller families and there is strong local opposition”. They also fear the extra traffic.

Walsoken Community Association sent in lengthy series of objections expressing concern about lack of need, highways safety, detrimental impact on the country and risk of flooding.

The association says there is “no demonstrated need for the approval of the application – furthermore there is no demonstrated need for any additional sites within the vicinity”.

The area had already had a disproportionate concentration of traveller sites “which has resulted in constant tensions within the communities of Walsoken and the surrounding parishes.

“The proposal for another site has demonstrably created heightened concerns and resulted in much public consternation.”

The association said that “the approval of a 13th authorised traveller site in the vicinity of Walsoken would be a provocative decision and would intentionally exacerbate already heightened tensions.”