Concerns over Gypsy pitch plansBy Stephen Lloyd
February 05, 2013
NEW plans for a Gypsy pitch in a peaceful hamlet have angered residents.
A bid to build a pitch on the flood-prone field in Taplins Farm Lane, Winchfield, was thrown out last year.
But applicant Henry Giles has just lodged new plans, which include additional hardstanding and a utility/dayroom on the seven-acre site.
More than 50 residents have already fired off objection letters to Hart District Council. Among the first to object was Odiham resident Kenneth Gilbert.
“This application is the most recent in a determined effort to convert rural land into a residential area,” he warned.
Mr Gilbert said the land has been farmed for centuries and was down a narrow and hazardous country lane.
“Hampshire has five Gypsy sites, two of them already in Hart,” he added. “Should Hart have to bear the disproportionate cost of a third?”
Mr Gilbert questioned how Hart would control the number of caravans on the site.
“Vehicles do not require foundations and the number could increase unnoticed,” he warned. “The area is prone to flooding, as old-timers will testify.
“The expensive persistence of the applicants, in this case, appears out of kilter with the form of application (Gypsy caravans or pitch) and can only raise the suspicion that the final aim is to develop the area wholly and commercially into residential land.
“The formation of additional hard standing signifies permanency and a utility/dayroom ancillary is the basis for future applications for buildings.
“North Hampshire desperately needs to retain its rural environment and I reject wholeheartedly this inappropriate and undesirable application.”
One objector pointed out that neighbouring Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council created a hardstanding Gypsy plot but it was destroyed in ‘a matter of months’ with lead piping stolen, electric wires left exposed and the area filling with rubbish.
“The area has now been cordoned off for years due to the risk to local residents,” they added.
“Consider the waste in tax payers’ money and the eyesore for local residents. Do we really want to risk this happening?”
Green Planning Solutions, the Shrewsbury-based firm acting as agents for Mr Giles, said the pitch and utility/dayroom were needed “to meet a recognised need for such facilities in the area to facilitate a Gypsy lifestyle”.
It added that the nearest bus stop was 800 metres away and provided a regular service to surrounding towns and villages.
The agent said the single-storey utility/dayroom had been positioned to allow convenient access to the stationed caravans during the day.
“The materials overall scale and form of the utility/dayroom building are appropriate to a countryside location with features typical of the tradition of agricultural buildings of this scale in the countryside,” it added.
“The utility/day room will provide facilities that enable the occupants of the caravans to minimise the recognised hazards associated with cooking and fire in the close confines of caravans and provide facilities for washing and bathing and the maintenance of basic hygiene.
“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.
“Additional native hedgerow and tree planting is indicated on the plan to supplement what exists on the site and where any hedgerow is removed this will be replaced with new native species planting.”
Hart planning officers are considering the scheme.