Councils oppose caravan site

A proposed residential gypsy caravan site has met with strong opposition from both Gillingham and Mere town councils.

The site is on Jane Oaks Farm, just inside the Wiltshire border but only 500m from the Dorset hamlet of Huntingford. As such, Gillingham Town Council’s planning committee debated the application last week and were unanimous in their opposition.

Gillingham Mayor Barry von Clemens said had the plan been proposed in Dorset, it would have failed on so many counts that it wouldn’t have been worth posting. The application is for four static caravans and four touring caravans, with space for four cars. Two amenity buildings and a sewage treatment plant would also be sited on the land, accessed by a single-track lane off the B3092 Gillingham-Mere road.

Planning officers have already said they would need to approve schemes to take surface and foul water off the site. Tree officer Shane Verrion is also insisting on a report into how a ‘significant’ oak tree would be protected. The South Wiltshire branch of the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) objects, saying:

“The site is in open farmland, well outside any settlement. “The countryside contributes to the setting of Mere.”

More than 50 public objections have been lodged with Wiltshire County Council, with most pointing out limited access to the field, the rural location and the fact that another gypsy residential site is close by. Neighbouring farmer Caroline Morton at Hinks Mill Farm said of the half- acre site: “The existing land has been allowed to deteriorate over many years and should be restored to its proper agricultural use in keeping with surrounding small fields.”

Mere Town Council also oppose the plan and said that if it were approved by Wiltshire, then mains water, power, sewerage, drainage and waste disposal should be supplied before occupation. Wiltshire councillor George Jeans, whose division includes Mere, has ‘called in’ the application, which means that should a senior planning officer be minded to approve it, it would be automatically referred to the planning committee.

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