From the Cornish Guardian

A GYPSY family has been given the green light to build a home on land near Bugle – more than a decade after they started searching. On Monday Cornwall Council’s central sub-area planning committee approved an application for four mobile homes along with three day rooms, reduced from four after local objection, and four touring caravans at Little Meadow, Lavrean, Bowling Green.  Gemma Halstead, planning officer, told the committee there was a “pressing need for Gypsy and Traveller sites”. Council chiefs were told only 47 pitches had been allocated in the former Restormel area up until April last year and a further 56 pitches were needed to meet the provision for Gypsy and Travellers up until 2020. But Treverbyn Parish Council opposed the application and called for it to be deferred pending guidance, which the committee was told, was not required because of recent national planning policy.

 Peter Wyper, parish council chairman, said two appeals to build two dwellings on the land had already been dismissed, and later an appeal to site a bungalow had been rejected. He told councillors the planning officers’ report showed Little Meadow was not sustainable, that the structures on the site are obtrusive and that the scheme did not comply with local policy to protect and enhance the environment. “Indeed, on reading the report, the only factor that would recommend this application is the fact that Cornwall Council has failed to meet targets for the provision of Traveller sites.” He went on to say that on a recent visit to St Austell the Government’s Planning Minister, Nick Boles, had told the audience that the “planning system should be blind to Traveller status”.

 But Gypsy rights campaigner Maggie Smith-Bendell, representing the family, told the committee there was a “dire need” for more Gypsy and Traveller provisions, and that for many years Cornwall Council had done “literally nothing” to address this. She said the “private Gypsy site” application was for a “very small family unit to keep their children together”. The “perfect piece of land for a Gypsy site does not exist”, said the activist of 20 years, but she vowed they would work with the council to make the site less visible. She added: “Families are joining other groups out there on the roadside with nowhere to go. Children need access to healthcare and education, running water – it really is a dire need.”

 Cornwall councillor Fred Greenslade, committee chairman, said he hoped the Cornwall Local Plan would address the issues of Gypsy and Traveller provision. “I tend to agree with you (Maggie Smith-Bendell); there has been no great provision of land but we must take today’s application on its own merits.”

After the meeting the family, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisal, said they were over the moon. Mrs Smith-Bendell, speaking on their behalf, added it had been a long road and they were pleased with the result. “Let’s just say when we started looking for this family they (their children) were five and six years old and we have an 18-year-old now getting married in a few weeks with nowhere to go.”