Council decides fate of three gypsy and traveller sites in the Horsham district

JPCT 021012 Planning request Deer Park Farm, Leechpool Wood, Horsham. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 021012 Planning request Deer Park Farm, Leechpool Wood, Horsham. Photo by Derek Martin

An application classed as gypsy and traveller sites in Horsham was refused by the council, one was accepted and another given temporary permission.

Horsham District Council’s development control north committee rejected an application at Deer Park Farm in Hampers Lane, Horsham, while Northside Farm in Rusper Road, Ifield, was given temporary permission.

Members also accepted a bid for an additional mobile home to the four already stationed in Greenfield Farm in Valewood Lane, Barns Green.

However Deer Park Farm drew the objection of some councillors, led by Godfrey Newman (LDem, Forest), because it was within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beaty (AOMB).

The application was for the use of land for a caravan for residential purposes, and the building of a dayroom and utility room.

Mr Newman was also unhappy that residents were given one week’s notice for the meeting on an application that had been waiting to be decided for the past two-and-a-half years.

He said: “Really there’s no excuse for this coming to us in the way that it has.”

He added that the council had caused the problem, because, having taken so long to determine the application, those living on the site had become local.

He explained: “We are already looking at a precedent. The difference is this is part of a piecemeal application so we can accept our targets.”

Andrew Baldwin (Con, Holbrook East) added: “There are good gypsies and less good gypsies.

“If we give this permission, well this will be another Dale Farm in Essex.

“I hope the council could make a categorical statement that that would not happen.”

While some members expressed sympathy with Hampers Lane residents, John Chidlow (Con, Southwater) said: “Personally I think we are making too much out of this.”

He added: “A previous speaker made it quite clear this is a respectable family who prefer that way of life.”

A third application for Northside Farm was given temporary planning permission for two years, even though the applicant was unhappy with temporary permission.

Liz Kitchen (Con, Rusper and Colgate), chairman of the committee, said: “I’m going to agree with the decision very reluctantly.”

She added: “This is absolutely the wrong site for a gypsy encampment.’’