21st May, 2019

Plans for caravan site on greenbelt land in Solihull rejected

Felix Nobes 21st Feb, 2019

PLANS for a caravan site on greenbelt land in Solihull have been denied amid more than 40 objections from residents.

The proposals were to demolish existing buildings on land off Church Lane in Bickenhill and use the site to station a static caravan, touring caravan and day room.

A Solihull Council planning committee meeting last week threw out the application saying it was ‘inappropriate development’ on the greenbelt.

It was decided it did not meet the ‘very special circumstances’ exemption required to satisfy national and local policies – to allow construction on greenbelt.

Committee members also spoke against the plans because of their inaccessibility and the fact there are already adequate gypsy and traveller sites in the borough.

Nathaniel Green of Green Planning Studio speaking on behalf of the applicant, Tom Connors and his family, said: “The officers’ report is deficient in a number of respects. It has completely failed to acknowledge that we are trading in buildings, an accepted approach in the greenbelt.

“As a result there is a reduction of development on the site.”

He also argued that based on previous applications, there could be a small unmet need for traveller sites in the borough.

But Councillor Diana Holl-Allen said: “I don’t think there are any very special circumstances.

“We do try to avoid developments in our field and on our green spaces, we do our best to maintain our green spaces.

“In some ways, I feel sorry. I’m sure there are reasons why the family would wish to be positioned there.

“But as is pointed out it is not exactly in an accessible area for whatever the children might need.”

Richard Cobb of the Bickenhill and Marston Green Parish Council also spoke against the application.

He said: “There are a large proportion of gypsy and traveller pitches in Solihull and there is no evidence of any unmet need and no evidence the applicant has examined alternative sites outside of the greenbelt.

“If this application were to be approved it would soon attract other caravan pitches around it.”

Councillor Angela Sanderson: “It is inappropriate development by encroachment and it is an unsustainable site, not having a bus route and being some distance from other facilities such as schools.”

The plans were unanimously rejected by the council, eight votes to nil.

The ‘very special circumstances’ exemption permits building on greenbelt appears in the government’s National Planning Policy Framework which otherwise aims to prevent urban sprawl and the unnecessary loss of open greenbelt land.

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