'We'll be forced back on the roads' - travellers' plea at site hearing
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Gypsys and travellers have taken an appeal to the planning inspectorate asking to establish a base in south Norfolk.
Travellers who had set up a base on land south of London Road, Suton, without seeking planning permission first, were handed an enforcement notice by South Norfolk Council in 2019.
The travellers had asked for retrospective planning permission for eight plots plus day rooms and hard standing ground for caravans but were rejected.
They appealed, arguing they needed somewhere to live.
Hearing the case on Wednesday, Simon Hand, the planning inspector, asked if the residents had anywhere else to go.
“If we are forced to go, we will be forced back onto the side of the road. We are just trying to be fair with everyone," said Simon Jay.
“If they are unhappy with us on the site then I would be happy to do a land swap.
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“They have moved me off every field in Norfolk but they have never come up with a plot for me to live.
“The lots here are over-packed, they are often not suitable to live on.”
Mr Jay added he and the other families needed a base for educating their children, for visiting doctors and a place to lockdown for Covid.
Mr Caruthers, who represented Mr Jay and the other travellers, argued SNC had failed to provide enough sites for gypsies.
An SNC officer said their site allocation was decided based on a survey of travellers in the area, but Mr Caruthers said it had been ineffective.
Sebastian Charles, who spoke on behalf of nearby residents, responded that it did not impact the case, which was about the site in question.
Mr Charles said the site would overwhelm the local community – which is against government guidance – was dangerous due to the 60mph speed limit and raised concerns about flooding.
The issues were dismissed by Mr Caruthers, with Mr Jay saying the site had experienced no flooding in the two years he had been there.
Mr Charles argued planners would not have picked the area for a travellers site and it was only being discussed because it was retrospective.
The case was adjourned until Thursday for a site visit.