Travellers are told to move on

NEAABE111012c1, Councillor Robert Sears Piccavey at the travellers site on the greenebelt field, Underwood.
NEAABE111012c1, Councillor Robert Sears Piccavey at the travellers site on the greenebelt field, Underwood.

TWO travellers sites on greenbelt land in Underwood and Westwood were refused planning permission at a meeting last week.

Travellers set up home off Alfreton Road in Underwood and Main Road in Westwood without planning permission last October and councillors and residents have been campaigning to move them on ever since.

Both sites were rejected at an Ashfield District Council planning meeting last week because of their intrusion into greenbelt land.

But some councillors have revealed they are concerned the refusal was not strong enough and are worried it could help the travellers to appeal the decision.

Cllr Gain Turner said the grounds for rejection on the Underwood site should have included a nearby Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which is protected because of its rare type of grass. She also felt the lack of local amenities and environmental risk caused by road scrapings laid by the travellers should have been mentioned in the decision.

For the Westwood site, Cllr Turner said the fact it was in a flooding zone should have been a major reason for refusal.

“There’s a brook that runs through Eastwood and it floods every time it rains,” she said.

“The site is not on a main sewer, but a cesspit which would be horrific if it flooded. What would that have been like for nearby residents?

“If these people appeal, which is their right, our rejection isn’t as strong as it should be.”

Cllr Robert Sears-Piccavey, who gathered 1,300 signatures on a petition against the sites, agreed.

“I am obviously pleased with the overall decision, but they should have bolstered up the reasons for rejection. I think we would have been more likely to win an appeal.”

But council leader Cllr John Knight said: “You can’t throw everything at it and hope that one of them sticks. We have to be professional and look at it on a fact-by-fact basis.

“Planning rules are very specific. The sites not being near amenities for example, I might agree is not ideal, but it’s not a legal reason to turn it down.”

After the travellers set up camp with six caravans in Underwood, they bought an allotment off Main Road in Westwood for four caravans.

They now have six months to appeal the council’s decision.