Traveller family’s fight to stay at Waltham site could take new twist after planning officer recommends to approve application

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An application to turn pasture land off Goadby Road into a private gypsy caravan site, for up to eight caravans, was unanimously refused by Melton Council’s planning committee in April 2014 on grounds including the site being in an unsustainable location, the proposal being contrary to planning policies and the site not being suitable for the grazing of horses.

At the time more than 180 people had objected.

Following the committee’s refusal the proposed site was then subject of an enforcement notice, requiring it to be vacated and restored to its former condition.

But the notice wasn’t complied with which led to the council applying for a court order to vacate the site. A High Court hearing is set for February 16.

Now the family’s battle to stay could be about to take another turn after a planning officer’s recommended to approve plans, subject to conditions, to convert the same land into a residential gyspy caravan site (maximum of six caravans) with grazing for horses. There would also be a new access, west of Goadby Road.

It will be down to the council’s planning committee, which meets on January 7, to decide whether to permit or refuse the application after weighing any adverse impacts against perceived benefits.

The applicant, Raab Truswell, has told the council the permission would be for their temporary use of the site - for the period that senior family members needed to live there.

The planning officer’s report says: “The application is considered to present some benefits and limited harm. It would contribute to the identified need for gypsy accommodation within the district, which currently fails to meet five-year supply. The site would also meet the personal circumstances of the applicant and his family and would avert the impact of eviction and an unsettled future.”

Giving its response to the application the Multi Agency Travellers Unit said it had records of the family’s 22 separate unauthorised encampments over an 11-year period.

They added: “The family always kept the unauthorised sites tidy and tried to comply with the code of practice for gypsies and travellers. Howeverwiththe number of caravans and many horses they kept, complaints were inevitable and friction with local people steadily increased over the years. Should the family find themselves homeless again past history would suggest they would revert back to occupying the roadside verges in the northern Melton area as this is where they have lived for most of the last 11 years.”