Four gypsy pitches in Copsale narrowly approved

Plans for four gypsy pitches near Copsale (photo from HDC's planning portal)
Plans for four gypsy pitches near Copsale (photo from HDC's planning portal)

A gypsy and traveller site south of Copsale has been narrowly approved.

More than 100 letters of objection have been received to plans for four pitches including mobile caravans, day utility rooms and car parking at Hawthorns off Bar Lane.

Both Nuthurst and Southwater parish councils also objected, but it was approved by Horsham District Council’s Planning Committee North last Tuesday (June 5).

This was after a motion to refuse the application by Toni Bradnum (Con, Nuthurst) was tied then lost on the committee chairman’s casting vote.

Mrs Bradnum said the site was unsuitable and plans would have a detrimental impact on the surrounding area.

She raised the fact it was far from facilities such as schools, doctors’ surgeries and shops and was also next to Oak Tree Farm, a centre for adults with learning disabilities, autism and challenging behaviour.

She added: “This whole scheme is ill conceived, flies in the face of our own policies, would ruin the landscape and absolutely fails to consider those living around the site.”

Agent for the scheme Phil Rowe described how the pitches would be privately rented and not sold, with occupiers having to abide by ‘stringent conditions’.

But objectors raised concerns about road safety, ecology, landscape impact, contamination, sustainability and the effect on nearby listed buildings.

They also asked why the application had been recommended for approval by officers when the site was not included in the draft site allocations document for gypsies and travellers, which has been delayed.

Planning officers explained that the site had been considered and discounted as there were other locations deemed more suitable, but did not mean it was unacceptable in granting planning permission.

The planning permission did have conditions attached to it to address issues raised about ecology and contamination.

Claire Vickers, cabinet member for planning and development, said: “This is a planning application and it must be judged on its own planning merits.”

She explained how the council did not have a five-year land supply which was ‘quite significant in determining this application’.

She added: “It might not be 100 per cent ideal but it’s suitable for four pitches.”