Hart seems intent on becoming 'home of Hampshire gypsies', complains parish council chairman
Controversial plans for a Gypsy pitch in a peaceful hamlet have finally been approved.
A bid to build the pitch on the flood-prone field in Taplins Farm Lane, Winchfield was thrown out last year, but applicant Henry Giles lodged new plans, which include additional hardstanding and a utility/day room on the seven-acre site.
This application was approved by Hart District Council's planning committee on Wednesday last week.
Councillor Andrew Renshaw, chairman of Winchfield Parish Council, who spoke against the proposal, said after the meeting: “Everyone is very disappointed, not least the 114 people who sent in letters of objection.
“No one understands why Hart wants to be the home of Hampshire Gypsies.
“Most other districts do not have any Gypsy sites but Hart has now added yet another one in the area.”
Cllr Renshaw said planners ‘ripped up the rulebook’ to push the scheme through.
“Now they will be ripping up the ancient hedgerow too,” he warned.
“We are very concerned at the implications of one pitch on a seven-acre site and will be watching very closely as to how Hart controls activity on the site, and any further development.”
Among residents objecting was David Bates of Station Road in Winchfield, who pointed out that more than half of the total number of Gypsy sites in Hampshire were in Hart.
“There are several of these sites within a five-mile radius of Winchfield, the last unspoilt Domesday Book village in the region,” said Mr Bates.
Winchfield Parish Council raised its objections to the application, saying it was contrary to national and local planning policies.
It added the site was unsuitable for development due to its location in open countryside and warned of a risk of flooding, access hazards and a lack of sustainability.
Hartley Wintney Parish Council also objected, warning the site access is on a blind, hazardous bend in the road.
“Changing the access to the site would involve ripping out a large length of ancient mixed hedgerow,” warned the parish council.
But Hart planning officers said there was an unmet need for Gypsy pitches within the district. They added there would be no adverse impact on the amenities of neighbouring occupiers.
Officers also said they considered the development was acceptable in flood risk terms and that subject to the widening of visibility splays, was acceptable on highway grounds.
Green Planning Solutions, the Shrewsbury-based firm acting as agents for Mr Giles, said: “The materials, overall scale and form of the utility/day room building are appropriate to a countryside location with features typical of the tradition of agricultural buildings of this scale in the countryside.
“Existing hedgerows, bunds and areas of substantial vegetation will be retained and augmented wherever possible, and no existing trees will be affected by the proposals.”
The company said extra native hedgerow and tree planting would supplement what exists on the site and any hedgerow removed will be replaced.