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Council officials back plan for extra traveller pitches in Fenland village, despite 'domination' fear

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Proposals to provide extra traveller pitches in a West Norfolk village are being backed by borough council officials, despite claims they could end up "dominating" a nearby residential area.

Community leaders in Upwell have opposed plans for extra pitches on a site to the south of Small Lode, on which a decision is expected next week.

But West Norfolk Council's planning committee is being urged to approve the scheme, after officials argued that opponents had misinterpreted central government policy on the subject.

Upwell village sign. (50199820)
Upwell village sign. (50199820)

Four new pitches for mobile homes and touring caravans are proposed in the latest application, which is due to be examined at a committee meeting in King's Lynn on Monday, August 16.

A report to the committee said the pitches are intended to be of similar size to those on a nearby site, where 11 plots are already accommodated.

The applicant, Mr M Stevens, also argued the existing site is "well maintained and integrated into the local community."

But, in its objections, the village's parish council said: "Government policy for travellers sites updated in 2015 states that when assessing the suitability of sites in rural or semi-rural settings, local planning authorities should ensure that the scale of such sites do not dominate the nearest settled community."

It argued that, if the application is approved, the residents of two nearby houses "would be surrounded on all sides by travellers sites and therefore completely dominated."

But planning officers said: "This has been taken out of context as the reference to ‘settled community’ is the village, not [an] individual or groups of properties.

"The amenities of these adjoining dwellings would not be unduly affected given the measures of hard and soft landscaping and separation distances, plus land drainage measures which may be secured via condition."

The parish authority also raised concerns about flood risks, which were echoed in two letters from local residents.

But emergency planning officers have not objected, although they have advised the development of a flood evacuation plan.

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