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Planning officials to debate proposals for traveller site in West Norfolk

West Norfolk councillors will debate plans for a proposed site for traveller families next week, following an appeal to an inspector.

A planning application proposes a change of use for land off Wheatley Bank, Walsoken in which five pitches would be created.

The scheme proposes a day room, space for a mobile home and touring caravan, as well as car parking space.

Planning Applications (19654395)
Planning Applications (19654395)

Officers have recommended that the application is approved next week, despite opposition from parish authorities.

An application for 12 pitches on the same site was turned down by the borough council three years ago. A subsequent appeal against that decision was also dismissed.

The applicant is Christine Harrison, whose agent said the application has been “significantly revised” after the original application was turned down and the appeal lost.

They said: “The application has materially changed in terms of the travelling status of the occupants, scale of development, site layout and landscape strategy in light of the appeal.”

The supporting case also claimed that the residents who have been allocated a pitch have all met the criteria defined by the government in the 2015 Planning Policy for Traveller Sites.

However, officers’ report to the planning committee said that both the Walsoken and West Walton parish councils have objected to the scheme.

The Walsoken authority said: “It is a residential application in open countryside. It is likely to be highly visible from the surrounding properties and roads for some years as it will take a long time for the proposed trees to grow enough to screen the site.

“Five pitches could result in 20 to 30 people living on the site.”

However, no objections have been raised to the application by either county Highways officials, the Environment Agency or borough housing strategy officers.

And borough council planning officers concluded: “The balance has now altered in that the need is considered to outweigh the impact upon the countryside which can be ameliorated by the landscaping scheme, which can be secured via condition.

“It is proven that the development can be made safe with regards to flood risk and passes both sequential and exception testing.

“All the matters of concern identified by the Inspector when determining the previous appeal have been addressed.”

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