Great Britain

Darlington Gypsy site plan unveiled after need identified

A PLAN has been unveiled to create a site for Gypsy families on farm fields just months after an authority admitted it could not demonstrate a sufficient supply of deliverable such sites to meet its target for the community.

The proposal by John Tyers, the cousin of Gypsy community leader Shera Rom Billy Welch, comes just six months after Darlington Borough Council planning officers stated that the area did not meet the government’s required five-year supply of deliverable Gypsy sites.

The lack of a supply of suitable sites means the authority must give significant weight to rectifying the unmet need when it considers plans for such sites.

The proposed site off Neasham Road and Burma Road is currently used for grazing of livestock, and is near existing Gypsy accommodation and buildings that provide car recycling for specialist cars.

Documents submitted to planners stated the site is “unmistakably rural in character” and seek permission for four Gypsy plots for static caravans, a touring caravan and supporting utility buildings.

The application claims the site will not “result in a significant visual impact”, stating: “The location of the site means it is accessed from Burma Road and set back from Neasham Road. In addition, the proposals are behind an existing and established hedge. The result of this is that the proposals will be well screened from users of the Burma Road or Neasham Road.

“What glimpses are seen would also include the existing gypsy traveller site to the south of the so the application site would not appear out of place.”

While the site is next to the former municipal waste site that was tipped into the former Skipbridge brickworks, the application states it is safe for future users, representing appropriate sustainable development for the site.

A plan for five Gypsy sites for five pitches on nearby land was refused in February last year for several reasons relating to the lack of detail in the submitted plans.

However, a plan for two Gypsy sites on neighbouring land was approved ten years ago after it was established there was an unmet need for more such sites in the borough.

The latest planning documents highlight that there is a shortage of sites for Gypsy families in the borough.

It states: “The council is relying on windfall sites such as the subject proposals to meet the target. The proposals therefore ensure the council will meet this target and give them greater control on future sites.

“The applicants come from a long line of Gypsies who continue to live a Gypsy lifestyle through choice. The applicants are resident on an established Gypsy site in a neighbouring borough and the application would allow their children, now of adult age, to live in the area amongst established families and relatives practising the same lifestyle.”

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