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Appeal over controversial plan for traveller pitches

campaigners: Members of the residents group, when it was first formed to oppose the plan, back in 2012.
campaigners: Members of the residents group, when it was first formed to oppose the plan, back in 2012.

Campaigners have vowed to continue their fight against a controversial plan for a travellers’ site on green belt land in Stanley.

The proposal, to create six pitches, each with a mobile home and touring caravan, and a children’s play area, off Castle Gate, was refused by Wakefield Council planners last June.

But applicant Tom Spaven has now lodged an appeal.

Vikki Stansfield, secretary of Stanley Residents Group said villagers would continue to oppose the plan.

“It’s our area where we live and we will continue to take a stand against it,” she said. “As a residents group, we are strongly opposed to this development.”

She added: “At the end of the day it’s green belt land and this would be inappropriate development. We want to keep our green belt. We are slowly losing it and we don’t want to.”

The application, submitted in June 2016, received more than 200 objections. The majority of the council’s planning committee voted to reject the proposal, despite it being recommended for approval.

Reasons given were that the pitches would be “inappropriate” development of the green belt and that noise from the nearby M62 motorway could be detrimental to the health of anyone living at the site.

Now, the applicant has requested that the proposal is re-considered at an inquiry, by lodging a formal appeal.

Appeal documents reference the Wakefield Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment, published in October 2016, which identifies a shortfall of 28 pitches in the district up until 2020/21, rising to 64 by 2031/32.

The applicant states that harm to the green belt would be outweighed by considerations including the un-met need and the lack of alternative sites.

The 2016 proposal followed a similar plan, drafted in 2012, for 10 pitches at the site. The landowners lodged an appeal after this application was rejected by planners.

But it was thrown out by the government’s secretary of state for communities.