AN application for a single family Gypsy site has been granted after it was initially rejected on the grounds that it would damage the visual impact of the area.

Planning inspector Louise Crosby overturned Darlington Borough Council’s decision to refuse traveller Thomas Lee’s application to create a site for his family in October last year.

The site lies on the eastern side of Snipe Lane, near Hurworth, just off the A66 bypass and will accommodate a static caravan, amenity building and touring caravan, as well as a stable block for two horses and a tack room.

Although the council had granted a number of private gypsy pitches on the western side of the lane, officers argued at an appeal hearing that allowing a pitch on the eastern side would lead to a proliferation of applications the council would not be able to turn down.

In a report confirming her decision, Ms Crosby said that although the appeal site was an open field, the topography of the land meant the development would not be very visible and would be partially screened by a hedge.

She also said Mr Lee, his wife and four children were currently living at the Neasham Road Gypsy and traveller site, which she described as poor quality and not a suitable place to raise children due to a lack of green space and sanitary facilities.

“Mr Lee and his family are living on a site that is unsuitable and there is a general unmet need for additional gypsy and traveller sites in Darlington,” she added.

“It is government policy to encourage more private site provision and reduce tensions between settled and traveller communities in planning decisions.

“In this case there has been just one objection to the proposal and that was from the parish council in relation to highway safety and visual amenity.

“Overall I find that the proposal would not result in significant harm to the character of the surrounding area and in only minimal harm to its appearance. This is far outweighed by the identified general unmet need and lack of suitable, alternative sites.”

A number of conditions were imposed on the site, including restrictions on the number and type of caravans occupying the site to prevent any commercial activities from taking place.

External lighting will also be controlled, to protect the character and appearance of the surrounding area.