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Chances plan

is turned down VILLAGERS claimed children walking to a playing field would have faced abuse from gypsies if a planning applica- tion had been given the go- ahead. But objectors in Hunton are delighted that Maidstone’s planning committee voted to refuse the application. Two families had wanted to establish two mobile homes, two touring caravans and two utility blocks at plot five on land known as The Chances in Lughorse Lane. The field is divided into nine separate plots. Plot No 9 is cur- rently used by a gypsy family under a temporary arrange- ment.

Objector Heather Larman,

who spoke at the committee meeting, said: “Currently, our children can walk to the play- ing field using the footpath, but if the gypsy development of plot five goes ahead, they will have to walk through the mid- dle of a gypsy site. The likely intimidation and abuse will prevent them from doing so and cut them off from village amenities. “We know this will happen because residents have already suffered rudeness and abuse from the occupants of gypsies on plot nine. Would you want your children walking through a gypsy site to get to the playing fields?” Damian Regan, another Hunton resident, said: “This is a brave and historic decision by the planning committee to overturn the advice of their planning department. “If this plot had been devel-

oped, the encouragement this would give for the development of the other eight plots could have resulted in a large gypsy camp which would have di- vided our village into north and south”

Affordable homes scheme opening

BROOMFIELD and Kings- wood Parish Council, together with Orbit Homes, held an of- ficial opening ceremony at the Peter Pease Close develop- ment in Kingswood. The Close includes 10 homes for affordable rent through Orbit South and eight homes for shared ownership. Pupils from Kingswood pri-

mary school buried a time cap- sule, and a memorial plaque supplied by builders Jenner Ltd was erected in memory of the site’s namesake, Peter Pease, an RAF pilot whose plane crashed nearby during the Battle of Britain.

Sir Richard Pease, brother of Peter, and theMayor of Maid- stone, Cllr Brian Mortimer, burying a time capsule to mark the official opening of the development

8 South

Chair criticises Pickles over gypsy indecision

THE chairman of Maidstone Council’s planning committee has criticised the Government for not making promised pol- icy changes over gypsy provi- sion. In August last year, communi-

ties secretary Eric Pickles indi- cated he would overturn circular 01/06 of national pol- icy, which allows gypsies to live in previously undeveloped areas in the countryside. But almost a year later, no pol-

icy changes have taken place, leaving councils such as Maid- stone unable to prevent gypsy

GYPSIES seeking planning per- mission for sites should be made to produce evidence such as wage bills and receipts to prove they are leading a no- madic lifestyle. That is the view of Maidstone Council in its response to a Government consul- tation document about the policy on Planning for Traveller Sites. The response, en- dorsed by council leader Chris Garland, said: “It is our experi- ence, in having one of the highest concentra- tions of gypsy sites in England, that the settled com- munity does not consider many gypsies in this borough to be of a nomadic habit.

applications from being permit- ted.

Cllr Richard Lusty, a Tory,

said: “Until Mr Pickles gets his act together it will be very diffi- cult for us.” His comments came as the committee granted retrospective planning permission for two mobile homes and two touring caravans to remain at Stile- bridge Paddock in Stilebridge Lane, just north east of the A229 in Linton. Committee member Cllr Clive English (Lib Dem) said: “This is a site that complieswith current

“This is because many are landscape gardeners/business- men who do not regularly travel over a wide area looking for work.

Rather, they have fixed con- tracts in the same way as many

and the likely change in emerg- ing policy. The effect on the countryside ranges from non- existent to the largely positive. “There is no way this applica-

tion could, or should, be re- fused.” The committee agreed, de-

spite a reference to circular 01/06 by Cllr Stephen Munford, chairman of Boughton Monchelsea Parish Council. He said: “The applicant is a

horse trader and the circular states mixed uses are not per- mitted in rural exception sites.”

Let’s see your wage slips, travellers told “We cannot understand

The response said the reason why parts of Maidstone borough continue to be popular with gypsies is down to many male gypsies having their own businesses and finding the price of agricultural land to be afford- able.

“Maidstone has a high percentage of countryside and so supply matches de- mand in terms of market forces,” it added.

builders, engineers or supply teachers have, which means they only travel for specific con- tracted work.

Application for extended gypsy site A LARGE gypsy site to the rear of The Meadows, Headcorn, could be increased if a new planning consent is granted. Permission was earlier this year granted, on appeal, for 29 caravans to accommodate 56 people on two sites along Lenham Road. The latest application is from Rita Price, who wants amobile home, utility room and two caravans on plot 13.

why this is a nomadic habit of life and neither can many residents.” For planning purposes, the definition of “gypsy and trav- eller” is based on lifestyle, not ethnicity. The response, sent to

the Department for Com- munities, continued: “It is suggested that gypsy applications are accom- panied by evidence of wage bills, receipts etc to demonstrate a nomadic habit of life rather than anecdotal accounts of a visit to a horse fair, or

horse trading which are often hobbies or secondary sources of income. “The council does not under-

stand how occasional trips to horse fairs can represent a no- madic habit of life. “It is difficult for the local planning authorities communi- cating to the public how land- scape gardeners, tarmac businesses and general builders are considered to have a no- madic habit of life.”

Polytunnel proposal is ‘just so’...

KARL Brown has applied to erect three polytunnels at Love Lane, Headcorn, to aid his horticultural business,which trades as Just So Nurseries. The supporting statement says: “The horticultural system is to

grow plants both outside in the soil all year round and within the polytunnels during the spring and summer months. “The thriving business started when the applicant realised that of

the 20,000 or somembers of the British Fuschia Society, there was no-one in the South East of England producing commercial vari- eties – the market was supplied entirely by mail order from as far away as the Channel Isles and Europe.” The proposal also includes the erection of a potting shed, access track and hard standing.

Farmer given green light for solar panels PETER Checkley has been given planning permission to in- stall 76 solar panels on an agricultural barn in Castle Farm, Heath Road. Meanwhile, Nigel Edmed has applied to install solar panels

at Street Farm, Chartway Street, Sutton Valence, and Tim Springhall has applied to install solar PV panels on the roof of an outbuilding at Little Cheveney Farm, Sheephurst Lane, near Claygate.

To contact Downs Mail just phone 01622 630330

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