Romany gypsy family win planning battle to turn field into home


A Romany gypsy family living in overcrowded conditions will be able to move to a new home after they were granted permission to create pitches on a field.

Shane Clee, his wife and five children currently live at a site in Within Lane, Hopton.

But the move to land between Salt Lane and the B5066 at Sandon Bank, near Stafford, will free up space at their current site for other families – and provide more room for their children as they get older.

Stafford Borough Council’s planning committee granted permission for the Sandon Bank field to become a gypsy and traveller residential site, with a storage and service building, up to three caravans, a day room and amenity building.

While 13 letters were sent to the council in support of the application, more than 90 people objected. Concerns raised included the visual impact on the countryside, over-development of the site, loss of privacy and noise and disturbance.

Plans to build a house on adjoining land to the south of the site were refused permission in 2009 on the grounds of visual intrusion. It was considered that the land was outside of a residential development boundary.

Ward councillor Frances Beatty called in the latest application for consideration by the planning committee. She said: “This is an application in the open countryside on a site that has been refused planning permission for single dwellings on two previous occasions in 2009. It is not on previously developed land.

“The site is not a sustainable location: Salt is not a key service village as determined by the local plan. Indeed, Salt is a small village without services.

“The application site anyway is at a significant distance from the village, in open countryside.  Health provision is five miles away in Great Haywood or six miles away in Stone; the nearest local shops are at Hixon, nearly five miles away, or in Stafford, five miles away.

“The application site will be a visual intrusion in this rural setting on a very visible rise in the Trent Valley and will thus have an impact on the character of the neighbourhood. The site will have an adverse impact and loss of privacy for the immediate neighbours, who live opposite the site on the other side of the narrow Salt Lane.”

Michael Hargreaves, speaking on behalf of the Clees at the meeting, said they had been shocked and hurt by some of the comments made online by objectors. “All they want is more suitable accommodation on land they own”, he added.

“Their existing accommodation is at Mrs Clee’s family’s site and is extremely overcrowded. They and their five children live in two touring caravans with a tiny kitchen and bathroom.”

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A supporting statement, submitted as part of the application, added: “Three of their children attend Weston School. (One) is home-schooled, and they anticipate that their other children would be home-schooled as they get older.

“Mrs Clee takes the responsibilities of home-schooling the children seriously, and plans that the second living room in the day room block will function partly as a school room.

“The applicants have strong local links. Mrs Clee has lived on sites on Within Lane all her life, and herself went to Weston School. Mr and Mrs Clee have lived on the Front Withins site from before they were married.”





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