Gypsy site ruling 'set to close floodgates'

VILLAGERS are celebrating after a Government planning inspector dismissed a bid by travellers to remain living on fields overlooked by the North York Moors.

The leaders of a six-year campaign supported by Richmond MP William Hague to have Ings Lane, Great Broughton, returned to agricultural use, said the decision would set a precedent, preventing numerous other gypsy sites in the area.

The ruling follows Hambleton District Council launching an investigation into where gypsy sites could be extended or established as part of a drive to make-up a shortfall of pitches for travellers in the area.

Following a two-day public inquiry into an appeal against enforcement action by council at the site north of the village, inspector Anthony Fussey found 11 reasons to reject the appeal by landowner Andrew Barrass.

He said while the three other gypsy families living on the site were not part of the appeal, Mr Barrass’s caravan “significantly harms the landscape, and is unsustainable”.

Mr Fussey said although there was a need for travellers’ pitches in the area and Mr Barrass had improved access to the site, they were outweighed by breaches of planning policy.

Residents had told the inquiry they feared allowing Mr Barrass’s appeal would open the floodgates for many more caravan pitches in a national park area.

Councillors Margaret Skilbeck and Heather Moorhouse described the decision as “a victory for common sense” and paid tribute to the work of residents and Great Broughton Parish Council in preparing the case opposing the appeal.

Coun Skilbeck said: “This decision has been welcomed by everyone and the village of Great Broughton is now celebrating.”

Coun Moorhouse said the ruling should serve as a wake-up call to the district council officers that residents, particularly in rural areas, had been discriminated against in favour of gypsies.

John Pollitt, Mr Barrass’s planning agent, admitted the inspectors’ conclusions had been “damning”.

He said: “What I am most disappointed with is that we presented the council with a planning application and its officers pushed it forward with a scheme that was as watertight as possible.

“There are not sites available and the council are not providing sites.”

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