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Bill Cash MP on traveller application in Checkley

Press release 04/02/11

In response to an application for planning consent for land adjacent to Rose Cottage on Uttoxeter Road in Checkley, MP for Checkley Bill Cash has submitted the objection below to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council.
Cash said:
“I am deeply disturbed about the direction in which this appears to be going. I had previously called for the application to be rejected. 
“On behalf of my constituents, I would urge that Staffordshire Moorlands District Council do anything within its power to sort the matter out.”
The application is for “Change of use of land to stationing of four touring caravans for residential occupation by Gypsy-Traveller family with associated development (hard standing, dropped crossing, cess pit, utility building, timber shed for storage and landscaping).”

Planning Application Ref: 10/01062/FUL


On behalf of my constituents, I wish to strongly object to application 10/01062/FUL seeking planning consent for the land adjacent to Rose Cottage on Uttoxeter Road in Checkley, Staffordshire which has, under the authority of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, already been occupied and developed without any planning consent. I am seeking for this application to be rejected on the following grounds:


1. Planning guidance: The application leans heavily on Planning Circular 01/2006. This Planning circular is under consultation for its possible withdrawal by the government – and so the weight afforded to Circular 01/2006 should be greatly reduced. A recent parliamentary question in December 2010 stated the position on the planning circular: 


Gavin Williamson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on what date his Department plans to bring forward its proposed amendments to planning circular ODPM 01/2006 on Gypsy and Traveller sites. [29698] 


Robert Neill: We want to move expeditiously but subject to proper process in relation to our intention to withdraw Circular 01/2006 and will be holding a public consultation in the new year. Circular 01/2006 is currently extant but decision makers are entitled to have regard to the fact that it is proposed to withdraw it.


I am informed that the applicants did not have pre-application discussions with the local planning authority before moving on to the site, which in any case is contrary to the recommendations set out in Circular 01/2006. I am also informed that the site was not selected by the planning authority and was not included in the preparation of Regional Spatial Strategy and Development Plan Document, contrary to the recommendations set out in Circular 01/2006.


2. The voice of the local community: Many of my constituents in the local community are against the application. Checkley Parish Council voted unanimously to object to this application and have submitted a strong objection.


3. Previously refused: This application follows on from a previous refusal that was lost at appeal – and following which eviction was simply not carried out. 


4. 2007 application rejected: This new application is broadly similar to the one in 2007 (07/01375/FUL). The community strenuously objected to the first application submitted by the same applicants in 2007. The Planning Committee rejected the application, the applicants appealed the decision and the Planning Inspector dismissed the appeal. An appeal against enforcement action was also dismissed. To make matters worse, the size of the development has increased significantly.


5. 2008 application dismissed: The changes to this new scheme compared to the scheme dismissed in 2008 (07/01375/FUL) are not significant enough to allow development. The revised scheme does not address the Planning Inspectors reasons for dismissing the last appeal. The scheme does not address the previous concerns of the Planning Inspector in relation to its impact on the (Greenfield) site’s designation within the SLA.


6. Unsuitable land: This specific space is unsuitable for its intended use.


7. SMDC advice: I am aware that Staffordshire Moorlands District Council’s original advice on this land suggested that there could be ‘no development allowed on any area designated special landscape’ as this field is. 


8. Local plan: The current requirement for a council to provide designated sites in the local plan must not simply fall to this specific area in Checkley or many other spaces within my constituency. I believe this development to be contrary to the local development plan and the policies, which aim to protect special landscape areas. 


9. Amenities: This particular site does not have sufficient amenities for the requirements of this application. It is on a poor bus route with no shops or reasonably adjacent schools and there is no Doctor or Dentist in the area. There are also health concerns for the numbers of people living on such a small site in such a development without mains sewage. We have been informed that the local groundwater resource could be affected by pollution. Given that Gypsies and travellers are believed to experience the worst health and education status of any disadvantaged group in England then this site is unsuitable for that reason in itself.


10. Special Landscape Area (SLA): The site is a Greenfield site in the Special Landscape Area (SLA), located in the open countryside outside the development boundary for Checkley. The application would harm the character of the Special Landscape Area (SLA). This new scheme will have an unacceptable impact on the Greenfield site and the Special Landscape Area (SLA). The proposal materially detracts from the high quality of the landscape (Policies N8 and N9 of the Local Plan).  The scheme does not contain especially high standards of design (Policies N8 and N9 of the Local Plan). The application does not address the concerns of the Planning Inspector in relation to the impact on the Greenfield site’s designation within the (SLA). There are no mitigating circumstances that could individually or collectively outweigh the Greenfield Site’s designation within the SLA and justify granting of planning permission. The need for an available site does not override the Special Landscape Area (SLA) designation. The applicant has not demonstrated a need to remain at the site. The site is far too small to adequately contain the proposed development. The layout of the site fails to meet the standards set out in the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960.


11. Planning Inspector’s view: In his report in 2008 the Planning Inspector concluded (Para 12) that the site was too small to adequately contain the proposed development and that the proposal would therefore significantly increase the existing harm to the attractive landscape.


12. Quality of landscape: The four touring caravans, utility buildings and shed will detract from the high quality landscape. The four touring caravans, utility building and shed do not promote “especially high standards of design for development” (Policy B13, Local Plan).


13. Need for site: The need for the applicants to remain on the proposed site has not been sufficiently demonstrated. 


14. Mixed Residential and Business Use: The local community are already suffering noise and other disturbance from the movement of vehicles to and from the site, the stationing of vehicles on the site, and on-site business activities. Contrary to ODPM Circular 01/2006 PLANNING FOR GYPSY AND TRAVELLER CARAVAN SITES, the planning authority did not identify this land as a site suitable for mixed residential and business uses and the safety and amenity of occupants and neighbouring residents was not properly considered. No separate sites in close proximity have been identified for business use. The site is being used to run a number of businesses and is unsuitable for mixed business and residential use.


15. Regional Spatial Strategy: The site was not selected by the planning authority, was not included in the preparation of Regional Spatial Strategy and Development Plan Document. This conflicts with ODPM Circular 01/2006 PLANNING FOR GYPSY AND TRAVELLER CARAVAN SITES.

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