Gypsy and travellers await planning appeal result
- Credit: George Thompson
“Where do they expect us to go?”
That’s the question from gypsies and travellers appealing for planning permission for an unauthorised site in South Norfolk.
On Thursday the planning inspectorate visited the camp in Suton, Wymondham, as part of a planning appeal by site residents.
In 2019, residents failed to get retrospective planning permission for eight plots and hard standing ground for caravans.
Speaking following the inspector’s visit, the travellers said they just wanted somewhere to live, bring up their kids and access medical services.
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“I have had my name down for a pitch for 20 years,” said Simon Jay, a site resident.
“In that time, they have never come up with a pitch for me.
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“They are on about moving families in Covid, surely we have the right to lockdown like everyone else?”
Mr Jay said he and the other residents have been paying council tax and everything on the site can be built to council specification, offering to pay South Norfolk Council to do the work.
“What more do we have to do?”
“We are not asking the council for any grants or anything like that, we’re not asking for one penny.”
He added: “At the end of the day where do they expect us to go if they take us off here?
“We don’t want to be stopping in people’s back gardens, we are trying to stop people being stressed with us.
“It's common sense, if we are moved off here, we will have to travel around Norfolk again – we don’t want to do that.”
Mr Jay said he hoped one day the neighbours would feel welcome to come round for a cup of tea.
A Suton Community Council representative stressed the community had nothing against travellers but said they needed to follow planning law like everyone else.
Neighbours have raised a series of concerns about the site, including if the road is safe enough and whether the traveller population would overwhelm the local community.
“We are not NIMBYs we have lived in harmony with Chepore Lane [another travellers site 300 metres away] for some time now," they said.
“I feel for the travelling community, they want to maintain their heritage, but if you put up eight houses overnight you would get told to tear them down.”
Planning inspector Simon Hand said his report would be finished in a few weeks, but did not give an exact date.