Gipsy family appeal over planning condition at Carleton Rode site

A gipsy family has denied that its efforts to lift a planning restriction on their site near Attleborough are profit driven.

Traveller John Leveridge defended his want to change a condition imposed on the former agricultural field at Carleton Rode, which says the site must only be occupied by his family and relatives, during a planning appeal hearing at South Norfolk Council on Tuesday.

He was granted planning permission for six pitches at the site off the B1113 The Turnpike in 2009 and has since tried twice unsuccessfully to convince councillors to lift the condition.

He told planning inspector Richard Clegg that since permission was granted he has found the control to be 'unreasonable' as it limits how he disposes of his land and is stopping him from raising funds from his property by discouraging lenders from investing in the development.

Without financial help he can not continue a scheme of planting, finish building utility rooms and complete drainage on the site, he claimed.

Mr Leveridge also said two of the pitches, which are unoccupied and are for eventual use by his young grandchildren, could be leased out to other travellers addressing some of the need for plots in the district which is currently prevented.

Speaking on his behalf, Kevin Cole said: 'His own bank he has been with for 20 years is reluctant to extend funding because from their point of view if for instance Mr Leveridge could not make the requirements of a loan and they had to take the site back, with the condition it means the site has no value to them.'

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But objectors, including Carleton Rode Parish Council and the Carleton Rode Community Support Group, made up of nearby residents, said financial matters should not be held as a material planning consideration and Mr Leveridge would never have gained approval in the first place without the condition.

David Watson, from the group said: 'There is nothing stopping the applicant from selling part of the site such as the adjacent fields. He could make a profit on the agricultural land as its value has since increased.'

Objections also claimed the site would impact on the rural character of the area and become 'demonstrably' unsustainable if the restriction was changed as it would lead to a more intensive use of the site and increased traffic movements.

Planning officer Chris Trett, of South Norfolk Council, said: 'I think in the circumstances where all the occupants of the site are related then that activity is very much co-ordinated amongst them.

Without the condition we could in effect have something which amounts to six separate dwellings with their own separate activities so that's where the potential for greater intensity of use occurs.'

But Mr Cole said their fears were 'purely subjective'.

'The pitches are marked out separately with their own utility rooms and garden plots.

'The access road would not change so from our point of view we do not think there is likely to be any more intensity then if they were occupied by family or other individual families,' he said.