Gipsy site poised for approval at last

A gipsy site looks set to win official approval next week, five years after a dozen families moved there. The group of travellers at Willow Park in Beck Row, near Mildenhall, was granted temporary residence two years ago after a lengthy planning battle with Forest Heath District Council.

A gipsy site looks set to win official approval next week, five years after a dozen families moved there.

The group of travellers at Willow Park in Beck Row, near Mildenhall, was granted temporary residence two years ago after a lengthy planning battle with Forest Heath District Council.

But councillors are being advised to approve a permanent retrospective application on Wednesday amid demand for more traveller sites in the area.

The news comes after years of refusals, enforcement action and planning appeals in relation to the three hectares of land near RAF Mildenhall.

The 12 families who own the field off Rockery Drove were facing eviction until a Government planning inspector granted a reprieve in 2004 because of a lack of alternative accommodation.

Charles Randall, who lives on one of the plots, said the camp was now "very high quality" and the gipsies had become part of the community.

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"The site does not adversely affect the amenities of local residents, and it is not located in one of the more attractive areas of the district," he added.

There are objections from members of Beck Row, Holywell Row and Kenny Hill Parish Council, who fear approval would set a precedent. But Forest Heath officers are satisfied with a permanent arrangement as long as the site is used only by its current occupiers, mobile and static caravans are limited to 36 and 12 respectively and access is improved.