AN INSPECTOR is to decide whether a Gypsy can move into Chester's Green Belt to be closer to his horses.
The appeal has arisen at The Spinney on Hallsgreen Lane in Wimbolds Trafford where Mr R Hamer is seeking approval for a change of use to a residential caravan site for one gypsy family with two caravans.
The land, which has permission for the storage of timber and the manufacture of timber products, has been owned by Mr Hamer, a local Gypsy, for many years according to a report.
For Mr Hamer, Rugby based town planners Philip Brown Associates say the two caravans, one of which would be static, would be no more inappropriate in the Green Belt than the business use.
They argue it has been accepted by inspectors in other appeals there is an unmet need for additional Gypsy sites in Chester and a lack of alternative sites.
The caravans would be screened from the nearby M56 and the agents say the arguments in favour of the application "clearly outweigh the limited harm to the Green Belt and constitute the very special circumstances necessary to justify approval”.
Mr Hamer at present has a pitch on a “severely overcrowded" private gypsy site in Winsford and wishes to establish his own site in order to relieve some of the overcrowding there and to be close to his horses which graze the land.
Mickle Trafford and District Parish Council is "strongly opposed" to the application as Hallsgreen Lane is a narrow cul-de-sac and councillors feel no special circumstances have been put forward.
Chester City Council had four objections arguing The Spinney is in the Green Belt and the definition of one gypsy family is "too ambiguous" and would allow an uncontrolled number of individuals.
Objector say the change of use is inappropriate as the city council has not completed its report on the provision of sites in the district and suggest a temporary permission may be more appropriate.
They echo the parish council's concerns about the increased number of vehicles using Hallsgreen Lane.
Planning officers insist the change of use would be inappropriate in the Green Belt as it would not involve the re-use of the vacant barn at The Spinney and would include walls and fencing.
They accept that no sites have been identified which would be suitable for Gypsies and Travellers in Chester district and there is no indication as to when they will come on-stream.
They argue, however, there on no special circumstances as Mr Hamer has space on the site in Winsford.
The Spinney is outside Wimbolds Trafford and is not within easy access of shops, schools, public transport or other community facilities.
Recommending the application should be refused, they suggested that other alternatives had not been explored by Mr Hamer.
The decision led to an appeal to communities and local government secretary Hazel Blears who is to appoint an inspector to decide the issue at a hearing.
Comments are due with The Planning Inspectorate in Room 3/26, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6PN by Thursday, October 16.