Wednesday 21 February 2024
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More homes for travelling showpeople approved in Nottinghamshire

Councillors went against planning officer reconsiderations to approve two new homes for travelling showpeople at a site currently used to house static caravans in Kirkby-in-Ashfield.

Ashfield District Council’s planning department had recommended the plans, at the Spring Meadow site, in Park Lane, should be refused over concerns over lost plots for travelling showpeople.

The plans, submitted by a family that currently owns two static caravan plots, had proposed removing the existing facilities and building two three-bedroom homes in their place.

It also included space for car parking and the storage of their show equipment – which are small rides and food stalls used for business on fayres and big events.

The plans had been submitted as the family looks to make a settled home in the area rather than living permanently in the static caravans.

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But council officers called on councillors to refuse the plans over concerns two plots for showpeople would be lost and because the development could cause harm to the nearby countryside.

It followed a review of Ashfield’s gypsy and traveller site provision requirements between 2020 and 2038 which found 14 new plots are needed during this period.

Within the first five years of this 18-year window, nine plots need to be found in the district.

Planning permission was granted in 2020 for an extension to the Spring Meadows site, allowing for seven extra spaces to be created.

This took the total number of plots down to two, and council officers feared the potential loss of the two plots would lead to “significant concerns” over meeting the wider quota.

However, councillors did not agree with this view when the application came before the planning committee meeting on Wednesday (October 26).

They unanimously supported the applicants in their bid for permanent homes and went against the officers’ recommendations.

Councillor Jason Zadrozny (Ash Ind), the council’s leader and ward member for Summit, said: “It’s a no-brainer.

“It’s previously-developed land and I think this is exactly the sort of family we want to keep in Ashfield.

“They’re a good local family who work incredibly hard and wants to raise a family here. We should give them every bit of support we can.”

Cllr Arnie Hankin (Ash Ind), who represents Selston, added: “I visited this site only yesterday and the showpeople have kept an absolutely wonderful, excellent site.

“I don’t see in any way, shape or form that we lose two plots. We enhance two plots and, therefore, I’m going to go against officer’s recommendations.”

Christine Sarris, a senior planning officer at the council, confirmed a condition will be placed on the development to ensure the two homes are only allowed to be occupied by travelling showpeople.

This, she said, would help in preventing the loss of two plots for this purpose.

She said: “I would strongly recommend a condition ensuring this is for showpeople only. I think that is key to not losing the plots to the wider area.

“We need to be absolutely clear and transparent about that and we need to ensure we maintain the areas for equipment to be stored.”

The meeting also heard from a spokesperson for the applicant, who urged councillors not to turn down the plans.

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He said: “Each plot has sufficient room for accommodation, a touring caravan, a car and fairground equipment.

“Both applicants are members of the Showman’s Guild, they attend local fairs and events – including those organised by the council – and they need their site to function as a showperson’s plot.

“If it doesn’t, they lose their business. Why would they want to do that? This is showpeople genuinely wanting to have a property to live in.”

The family will now be allowed to build the two homes on land where the two current static caravans are based.

The Spring Meadows site itself is based on an old car park used for the Bentinck Colliery land.

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