COUNCIL officers have recommended plans for a “gypsy” settlement just outside a north Oxfordshire village should be approved.
Clifford Smith and Robert Butcher want planning permission to create a “residential caravan site” for 16 caravans for eight gypsy families, west of the M40, off Kirtlington Road in Chesterton, near Bicester.
The 2.7 hectare field, currently used for agriculture, would also include an amenity building, the access would be improved and hard standing and a sewage plant would be built.
But the application has proved controversial after 40 letters objecting to the proposal were sent to Cherwell District Council.
Concerns were raised that the development was too close to the village, it would harm the character of the area and Chesterton School was near capacity.
Chesterton Parish Council also opposed the application. It said the development would cause traffic problems on the A4095, that development on agricultural land was contrary to planning guidelines and the proposal was “excessive”.
Oxfordshire County Council’s highways authority also objected as the proposed access is along a public footpath.
However, in the report for councillors, it said the district did not have enough “authorised” traveller pitches and the problem has been exacerbated since the closure of Newlands Caravan Park, in Bloxham.
The report said: “In this instance Chesterton, with a population of approximately 850, is the nearest settled community being some 1.1km to the south east of the site.
“Officers are of the opinion that the proposed number of pitches at the site is relatively modest (in the region of 36 pitches were provided at Newlands Caravan Park), and so would not result in a development that dominates the nearest settlement of Chesterton.
“Given the above evidence there is clearly an identified need for additional gypsy traveller pitches, whether that be on existing sites or the bringing forward of new sites.
“Moreover it should also be noted that the lack of authorised pitches within the district is further exacerbated with the closure of the Smith’s traveller site (Newlands Caravan Park) at Bloxham on January 31; this will result in the loss of 36 previously authorised pitches.
“In addition to this, there are currently no identified sites that could provide alternative accommodation.
“Officers consider that the significant unmet need in the district, the lack of suitable and available alternative sites, and the lack of allocated sites in the Development Plan to meet the identified need should be afforded considerable weight in the determination of this application.”
The application was due to be considered in December last year, but was deferred over concerns about noise from the nearby M40 motorway. The number of pitches was also reduced from nine to eight.
Councillors will decide the application at a planning meeting today.
n Last month an application to retain land as a traveller site in Arncott was approved.