Bid for gipsy site on Green Belt land

PUBLISHED: 13:06 25 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:28 06 May 2010

The site for the proposed mobile homes and caravans

The site for the proposed mobile homes and caravans

A NEW gipsy site has been earmarked for an area of Green Belt land in Park Street. Three mobile homes and three touring caravans with hard-standing are planned for a site called Meadowside, which is located off the A405 and backs onto Orchard Drive. But

A NEW gipsy site has been earmarked for an area of Green Belt land in Park Street.

Three mobile homes and three touring caravans with hard-standing are planned for a site called Meadowside, which is located off the A405 and backs onto Orchard Drive. But the planning application has already attracted opposition including an objection from St Albans MP Anne Main.

The 0.17 hectare site already contains a bungalow and an application to demolish it and rebuild on a larger scale was refused in 2006 on the grounds it was inappropriate development in the Green Belt.

There is also a large summer house on the site where a digger was parked this week alongside building materials.

In his planning application John O'Brien says he wants to provide the additional gipsy pitches, "to meet a recognised need for such facilities in the area to facilitate a gipsy lifestyle."

The East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) has asked the district to provide a further 33 extra gipsy pitches by 2011 on top of the current 52.

It has also recommended that there should be a three per cent growth in the number of pitches, which can each hold up to two caravans, until 2021.

An Examination in Public (EiP) will be held in October in which a panel of planning inspectors will decide if the proposals are acceptable.

Cllr Chris Brazier, the district council's planning portfolio holder, said that he would strongly oppose any more gipsy sites or pitches before that time.

He said the Park Street application contravened several policies within the council's District Plan, including its location in the Green Belt, and confirmed that it would be called in to committee if the delegated officer granted permission.

St Albans MP Anne Main is opposing the application on a number of grounds including the potential increase in use of the access to the site from the A405 which she believes would be unacceptable.

She also pointed out that the Scott Wilson Report, which was commissioned by St Albans District Council (SADC) and other local authorities in Herts last year to identify suitable locations for gipsy and traveller sites, did not mention Meadowside or the area.

She said: "I believe that it is this sort of back-door approach to provision of sites that has caused conflict with local communities in the past.

"I feel that this proposal is unacceptable for a site of this type, especially as the site is visible from a public footpath running through the Green Belt."

The MP added: "I hope the council will not allow any use of this site until the matter has been appropriately considered through the planning process. "Sadly, unapproved gipsy and traveller sites are often a cause of tensions in the local community and I hope that this site will not be allowed to be used for any purpose until it has been appropriately considered.

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