District planners told to draw up policy on traveller accommodation

HORSHAM District Council’s cabinet member for strategic planning has highlighted the need for the council to draw up policies for accommodating travellers after members faced a dilemma in approving a caravan site.

Councillors at Horsham District Council’s development control (south) committee on April 19 were recommended by officers to approve a retrospective change of use of Parsons Field Stables, Pickhurst Lane, Pulborough, to be used as a caravan site.

The applicant, Ms S. Barnes, had lived on the site for four years, the committee heard.

Local member Brian Donnelly (Con, Pulborough and Coldwaltham) said he felt he could not support the application in the light of an announcement of changes to the law regarding traveller sites by Eric Pickles, Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar, and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

His proposals are not yet law, but members still found it difficult to support the officers’ recommendation.

If they did not approve the application, officers explained it could go through if Ms Barnes took it to appeal.

David Jenkins (Con, Chanctonbury), cabinet member for strategic planning, then put forward a second proposal to grant temporary permission for Ms Barnes to carry on living there while the council draws up a policy for travellers’ sites across the district.

He said: “Historically there’s always been a problem identifying sites for locals let alone those travelling through.

“We must make provision for them. We need to get on with it and draw up a policy keeping in mind Mr Pickles’ proposals. We cannot sweep it under the carpet.”

Members voted in favour of Mr Jenkins’s proposals and Ms Barnes was given temporary permission to live on the site for up to two years.

But if, through drawing up its new policy, the council decided Parsons Field Stables was not a suitable site for travellers, the permission could be cancelled, it was agreed.

As the council starts preparing a report on suitable locations for traveller sites, what are your views about it?

Leave your comments below or email anna.coe@sussexnewspapers.co.uk