Plans for a gypsy site on the edge of Horsham, which were rejected by the council, were allowed by a planning appeal inspector last week.
Horsham District Council rejected the application to station residential caravans and a dayroom block at Deer Park Farm in Hampers Lane in October 2012.
Councillors objected to the proposal because of the site’s location within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), while residents, who formed Hampers Lane Protection Group, argued that the development would affect the setting of the nearby Grade II* listed St Leonard’s Park House.
Speaking about the inspector’s decision at HDC’s Development Control North Committee last Tuesday Godfrey Newman (LDem, Forest) said: “I’m concerned as to the reasons given, and the council who have to pay costs as a result of advice that council members were given.”
Inspector Katie Peerless concluded in her report that other than the concerns about the AONB, the site was suitable and sustainable for the proposed use.
The report finished: “I have considered the material considerations put forward by the appellant in favour of the proposal and find that, on balance, the need for traveller sites in the district and the lack of available alternatives are sufficient to outweigh the limited harm to the AONB and the consequent conflict with development plan policy.
“This view is strengthened by the personal circumstances of the appellant and his family and my conclusion that the proposed landscaping of the site and the removal of the original mobile home would be welcome improvements on the existing situation.”
Discussing the development’s impact on the AONB she said: “Any harm caused to public or private views or enjoyment of the surroundings would be so minimal that it would not warrant refusal of the proposed development.”