Plans for two gypsy sites in Red Lodge considered with one refused and the other deferred

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Two planning applications for neighbouring gypsy sites have been considered by councillors with one refused and a decision on the other deferred.

Both proposed sites are in Elms Road, Red Lodge, on a former waste landfill site separated from the village by the A11.

But while one is sited in a dip, the other is on higher ground so officers recommended Forest Heath’s Development Control committee refuse it because it could be seen for some way which ‘would result in a detrimental impact to the character and appearance of the countryside’. The committe refused the application on Wednesday.

The application officers said was acceptable, subject to conditions, was by Paul and Richard Falco and Stephen Smith for change of use of the land to residential for three gypsy families, including three mobile homes and six amenity buildings. A decision on this was deferred for further details about land contamination.

The other was by Mr H Stretton for four gypsy families including four mobile homes, six caravans and four day rooms. Both are next to a site that was granted permission for five caravans with two amenity buildings in 2011, but has not been occupied.

The Environment Agency and Freckenham Parish council had raised the issue of land contamination, with the latter saying animals grazed there had ‘died unexpectedly’. But the agency was satisfied with a study carried out on the site, though called for measures to deal with risks during construction and not to permit pilings and penetrative foundations or boreholes on the site. Red Lodge Parish Council was concerned about road safety on Elms Road and the site being outside the existing settlement area.

There were 10 letters of objection to each application. Residents were concerned that granting permission would ‘set yet another precident for further applications’ and had fears about road safety, school places, land contamination, increased car use and the exposed nature of the site.

Officers point out: “The provision of gypsy and traveller sites in rural areas is not, in principle, unacceptable.”

However they say planners should limit them in number and size and ensure they ‘do not dominate the nearest settled community’.