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West Norfolk village traveller site extension plan approved, despite resident's claim of being 'surrounded'

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New traveller site pitches in a West Norfolk village have been approved, despite neighbours' concerns.

Plans for four new pitches on the south side of Small Lode, Upwell were brought before West Norfolk Council’s planning committee on Monday.

The site, which sits in flood zone one, is made up of 0.18 hectares of unused agricultural land, boarded by two homes and another 11-pitch traveller site.

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

“I feel we are now surrounded on all sides by travellers' sites and we are completely dominated,” said Clive Payne, a Small Lode resident.

Mr Payne said the development of the first traveller site had lead to an increase of floodwater in his garden and every year it drew closer to his property.

Prue Lester from Upwell Parish Council supported Mr Payne, arguing that the site would break planning policy that states travellers sites cannot dominate a local community.

“The reason we are looking at these additional pitches is so our children have somewhere to go,” said applicant, Mark Stevens.

“We have to drive through this part of the property to get to the part that is already licensed, it seems silly not to license it for the kids.”

Mr Stevens said he was “more than willing” to include additional drainage measures and was happy for it to be included as a condition.

“We are overcrowded,” Mr Stevens added, “they’re all married and need a place to take the children to school.”

Labour’s Charles Joyce said he was unable to vote on the item, arguing that information on whether the applicant and their family were actually gypsies had been withheld from them as decision-makers by officers.

Committee chairman and Upwell ward member, councillor Vivienne Spikings, said they were, telling colleagues: “I’ve known them since the inception of that particular site.

“They run a very tidy site, there’s never any trouble, they integrate well into the neighbourhood, we’ve never had a problem.”

However, Mrs Spikings added a good neighbour would have addressed drainage issues already.

The four pitches were approved 13 for, two against and one abstention, with a condition for drainage.

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