Battle over gypsy site at beauty spot set to continue

First published in News
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AN enforcement officer angered by the way travellers are treated has vowed to fight on after councillors rejected his controversial plan to rent or sell a beauty spot to a homeless Gypsy family.

Grandfather David Lovell said he would appeal against Hambleton District Council’s decision to refuse to his proposal to change the use of his one-acre smallholding in Bullamoor, near Northallerton, to a residential site.

He said he is more determined than ever to provide a high quality site for a single Gypsy family, an ambition that was triggered by his anger towards mass evictions from Dale Farm travellers' site, in Essex, in October 2011.

Dozens of residents cheered after councilors voted 11-2 against the proposal, which has attracted fierce criticism, including from Allertonshire Civic Society, Osmotherley Parish and Northallerton Town councils.

Following a heated planning committee debate, which included an appeal from a residents’ action group for the application to be thrown out, councillors said allowing the plan would harm the attractiveness of neighbouring properties.

Officers had recommended the scheme be approved, saying it was sustainable and “represents one of the few current opportunities to help meet the current need in Hambleton for private pitches” for Gypsies.

However, members said the site would not meet the needs of the travelling community as research had revealed Gypsies preferred to live on council-run sites.

Northallerton councilor John Coulson said: “Too many times we do not listen to residents. This is a very important site and it has been well looked after over the years.”

After the meeting, Mr Lovell said he had been subjected to a campaign of bigotry and abuse since applying for planning permission and had been dismayed by the “aggressive and small-minded attitudes” displayed by some members of the authority’s planning committee.

He said he has reported incidents to the police after having eggs thrown at his car, gates vandalised and set on fire and, on the day after councillors visited his site, had two letter boxes destroyed.

He said he was optimistic that he would achieve a different outcome when a Government planning inspector viewed the case on its planning merits, so he would be able to offer the site to a homeless Gypsy family from Yorkshire.

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