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Storm of protest over gypsy caravan site plan

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A PLAN for a residential caravan site for five gypsy families at Stretton, Warrington, has caused a storm of protest.
Strong objections have been lodged by Stretton Parish Council, Whitley Parish Council and a report to be considered by Warrington’s development management committee indicates there is significant opposition from borough councillors from Appleton, Stretton, Hatton and Higher Walton.
Nearly 50 local residents also oppose the proposals.
The scheme, to be considered by the committee on Wednesday, relates to land bounded by Fir Tree Close and the M56.
There is already an unauthorised gypsy site there and the proposal is for a mixed-use for caravans and the stabling of horses. There are two existing barns on the site and a considerable area of hardstanding.
Objectors say the site is within a few hundred yards of an existing travelling show people’s site and that there are two other gypsy sites within a radius of two and-a-half miles, providing more than 50 pitches.
Another site within such a small area would worsen an already unbalanced distribution of gypsy sites and undermine the stability of local rural areas.
They claim the applicants have previously shown a complete disregard of planning policy by establishing another unauthorised site in nearby Daresbury.
Although the application is for five families only, the site extends to some seven acres and the burden of enforcement activity required to prevent expansion of the development would stretch the resources of the borough council to the limit.
“If left unchecked, the expansion of this site would quickly overwhelm the established local community.”
Cllr Brian Axcell says the setting up of the illegal encampment at Fir Tree Close had been “very well planned” , with purchase of the land followed by putting down hard standing, obtaining an electricity supply and moving caravans onto the site.
Cclr Judith Wheeler says the site is accessed via a cul-de-sac of only seven houses who have suffered from inconsiderate parking for several years.
Planning officers say the scheme represents inappropriate development in the Green Belt but there is an accepted need for gypsy and traveller accommodation which the borough council has not been able to meet to date.
The site is reasonably contained, has largely been previously developed, and will not significant affect nearby the residents.
If the scheme was not approved, the applicants would be forced to live on the road side.
Officers are recommending the scheme for approval.

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