Number of gypsy pitches is ‘enormous’ for Barns Green

JPCT 03-04-12 Itchingfield, Tracy Poulton, planning policy demands S12141289a -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT 03-04-12 Itchingfield, Tracy Poulton, planning policy demands S12141289a -photo by Steve Cobb

Without an updated gypsy and traveller policy every application for more pitches in the district will go through, according to a campaigner.

Tracey Poulton, who lives in West Chiltington Lane, Itchingfield, called on residents to write to Horsham District Council and MP Francis Maude objecting to a new application for four additional permanent mobile homes and four touring caravans on Greenfield Farm in Valewood Lane, Barns Green.

In April 2012 she launched a campaign to create a ‘rational’ policy on all gypsy and traveller sites in the Horsham district.

If the four additional pitches were allowed - on top of the six already on Greenfield Farm and alongside the 11 pitches allowed on appeal at Kingfisher Farm in West Chiltington Lane - it would mean a total of 21 pitches.

“It’s an enormous number for a very small community,” Mrs Poulton said. “Every bit of the countryside might be in jeopardy of this happening. It has to be a collaborative approach to get a policy in place.”

She suggested that guidelines suggested a maximum of 15 pitches in one area.

She added: “They have a very neat site and they have been in the community for a long time, but it’s the speed of these applications.”

HDC is currently drawing up a gypsy and traveller policy that will sit alongside its new Local Development Framework, but until this is completed she and others fear any rejected applications will be overturned on appeal.

Three applications for gypsy and traveller pitches came to the council in October. One was deferred, another in Hampers Lane, Horsham, was rejected and is now being appealed, while a third on Greenfield Farm was accepted.

On Horsham District Council’s planning portal objecting Billingshurst residents Ricky and Lynne Nye said: “We feel utterly let down by HDC who have not had the foresight or the ability to put in place a policy to properly take care of the gypsy traveller community for our district and share appropriately the responsibility in a joined up and cohesive manner.”

In the past year Mrs Poulton said most people had expressed real frustration to her that councillors were being territorial and not working together to get a policy in place.

Suffering the agony of losing the appeal at Kingfisher Farm convinced her and others to work constructively towards getting people to identify multiple small sites around the district where gypsies and travellers could settle.