Thursday, 05 August 2021

Residents upset at plan for mini travellers' site

PLANS for a mini travellers’ site on land near Wargrave have been opposed by residents and parish councillors.

James Smith has applied for retrospective permission for the plot in Wargrave Road, near the A4, where he already keeps a stationary caravan.

The land was historically used as a paddock but Mr Smith wants his Romany gypsy family to be able to use it when not travelling in their second touring caravan, which would also be parked on the site.

He says he wants a “stable” place to live where the family can access healthcare and education for their children.

The application says: “The proposed site is modest and appropriate in scale.

“Gypsy sites are usually unlikely to be located close to urban settings due to the high cost of land within settlements and the competition for such land but this site is a reasonably good location for a gypsy site.”

Mr Smith says he and his family are currently homeless but are members of the Romany gypsy community and have gypsy status for planning purposes.

They are a well-known traveller family and regularly visit trade shows and earn a living by attending markets, horse fairs and other events.

But residents say the land is intended to be used as a paddock and having a large caravan on the site could obscure views of traffic using the nearby roundabout on Bath Road.

The road is also used by pedestrians, including students at the Piggott School.

Jeffrey Dawkins, of Wargrave Road, said: “The land is a paddock, not a housing plot.

“It is so close to the main road that it restricts vision for the hundreds of people crossing the A4 on a daily basis.

“This includes the plethora of youngsters from the Piggott School who choose not to use the footbridge.

“It is amazing that a dwelling could be sited on that dangerous corner.”

Andrew Rzysko, of Carlile Gardens, said: “The change of use would remove another piece of rural/semi-rural land and change it into a residential area.

“Has the council placed a limit on the number of people, vehicles, caravans, buildings (temporary or permanent) that will be allowed on the land or in the surrounding roads? Will the council monitor this?”

Linda McNab, from Marlow, said: “The area is part of the green belt and therefore not a housing plot. The caravan has been erected close to the main road and obstructs the vision for everyone crossing the road at this busy roundabout and not using the footbridge.

“The building is not in keeping with the immediate vicinity and any fencing in place has been erected without permission, restricting vision when crossing the road.

“Granting retrospective permission would set a precedent for other areas of green belt in the area to be abused in a similar fashion without due regard and respect to the process.”

Wargrave Parish Council has objected on the grounds that the plans are an “incongruous urbanisation” of a prominent location “contrary to the valuable openness requirement of the green gap within green belt”.

It also urged Wokingham Borough Council to take enforcement action to remove the exisiting caravan.

Chairman Richard Bush said: “It’s very visible — it’s right there when you come to the roundabout.”

Councillor Andrew Luckwell added: “There have been numerous comments on the green belt and possible proliferation. I feel it does impact on the openness of the green belt.”

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk

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