Thakeham gypsy and traveller site turned down

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News

Plans to build a private gypsy and traveller caravan site on a plot of land in Thakeham have been turned down.

The application for the spot, which is tucked away between Cray’s Lane and Duke’s Hill and can only be reached via a trackway, was considered by Horsham District Council’s planning committee south on Tuesday December 18.

It asked permission to station a mobile home on the site, build hardstanding for parking, allow space for a touring van, and to build a 6mx6m timber-clad day room.

The council received objections from 66 homes as well as Thakeham Parish Council, which said the application was in clear conflict with its neighbourhood plan.

This was a point of concern for Philip Circus (Con, Chanctonbury), who warned members that the neighbourhood plan took three years to prepare, and allowing such a conflict would ‘undermine parish confidence’.

Mr Circus also said the site was ‘not remotely appropriate’ to be used as a gypsy and traveller site.

Speakers and some councillors said there were errors in the report. A major one was the claim that there was a school within 330 metres of the site when, in fact, Thakeham First School moved to a new home much further away in August 2017.

One question centred around the identity of the applicant, with David Jenkins (Con, Chanctonbury) asking what evidence there was that he lived in the district or qualified for gypsy or traveller status.

When told that those personal circumstances were not relevant, Mr Jenkins said: “So you’re asking us to support a recommendation to grant consent to Tom, Dick or Harry when we haven’t got a clue what his status is.”

With questions still being asked, Mr Circus suggested the application be deferred until answers were provided.

His suggestion was put to the vote and, with seven for and seven against, it was left to chairman Brian O’Connell (Con, Henfield) to make a decision.

He chose not to defer the matter, and the application was then refused by eight votes to seven on the grounds that it was in an unsustainable location.