Villagers fear gypsy site would grow and grow

RESIDENTS of Timsbury fear “the next Dale Farm” on their doorsteps after a family of travellers applied for a gypsy pitch in the area.

Planning chiefs are considering an application from Mary Barney to provide one residential family gypsy pitch with a utility room, on land known as Bridle View, in Manor Lane.

The proposal, which takes up around half an acre of the field, would also contain additional planting in a bid to reduce the visual impact of the site.

Green Planning Solutions LLP, who are acting for Mrs Barney, say the development is needed “to meet a recognised need for such facilities in the area to facilitate a gypsy lifestyle”.

But a group of around 50 villagers have already met to voice their opposition to the scheme, fearing that it could be the origin of a much larger camp like the infamous Dale Farm, in Essex.

Bailiffs moved into that site in October last year, after it became home to more than 1,000 travellers.

Timsbury residents have vowed to submit separate letters of objection to Test Valley Borough Council.

One Stockbridge Road resident, who asked not to be named, told the Romsey Advertiser: “We know this application is for one pitch, but it’s probably not going to stop there. We’ve all got pictures of the next Dale Farm in our minds.

“This site is a few acres in size. If that ends up covered in static homes, it would be an eyesore and would reduce the value of properties in the area.

“It would be a travesty if the council were to allow that to happen.”

Another angry Timsbury resident said: “This site is green belt land and as such cannot be built on unless there are exceptional circumstances.

“No other members of the community have the right to build properties on green land. Why should permission now be granted for a gypsy site when previous attempts to develop the site have been refused?”

Bob Davis, chairman of Michelmersh and Timsbury Parish Council, said: “The council is reviewing this planning application and will be making its comments in a written response to Test Valley Borough Council, who make the decision, at the appropriate time.

“The parish council has a duty to represent local residents and their concerns will be fully investigated and taken into account in this response.”

In a brief statement, Matthew Green, from Green Planning Solutions LLP, said: “This site complies with development plans and national policy and should be permitted.”

But Mr Green admitted he had “no idea” whether the site would become the subject of applications for more gypsy pitches in the future. Residents have until December 21 to respond to the proposals.

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