Two gypsy traveller sites rejected by council

The planning committee met at Crescent Gardens Council Offices.
The planning committee met at Crescent Gardens Council Offices.

Two separate applications for gypsy traveller families in Knaresborough, have been turned down despite planning officers emphasising the need for traveller land in the district.

The committee had refused to make a decision on the Donaghue family’s application for two gypsy pitches at land near the junction with A658 York Road in Knaresborough after they had heard conflicting information relating to the need to provide sites in the Harrogate district.

At Tueday’s meeting planning policy officer Rachael Hutton said: “There is a need for seven sites in the area for the next five years.

“This is such a small local need that we will rely on windfall sites to come forward.”

Coun Alan Skidmore dismissed the need for gypsy sites as a reason to grant permission for the site.

He asked: “Would you allow a bungalow to be built on that site?” To which the planning officer responded “No”.

Coun Galloway felt that a need for seven sites should not be used as a reason to grant permission.

He said: “Why should we go out on a limb for a need for seven when we have a housing need of three thousand?”

However it was the issues of High Ways and the distance between the entrance to the site and the roundabout which led to councillors refusing planning.

District ward councillor, Phil Ireland said: “I have witnessed the speed of the traffic near that junction and it was not what could be described as slow.”

Coun Bernard Bateman described the plans as “an accident waiting to happen.”

Councillors voted to refuse planning however legal advisor Steve Pilling told the committee the decision would have to be referred to the district development control committee.

Plans for a different gypsy site at Cass Lane, Calcutt were put before the planning committee for a second time.

Planning consultant David Stovell said: “There is no reasonable expectation that other sites will become available.”

He added that the family need to remain in Harrogate so that a family member can continue ongoing treatment at Harrogate Hospital and that the family were enrolled with schools and doctors in Knaresborough.

The committee upheld the decision made in January to refuse planning permission for the green belt site despite the family gathering 71 signatures in support of this second application.

Both applicants now have 28 days to lodge an appeal with Harrogate Borough Council.