Traveller can remain at controversial site

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A TRAVELLER can remain at his permanent home in Gosberton Clough after receiving planning permission.

Percy Manning, of Short Drove, told councillors he had previously kept his background a secret to protect his son from bullying at school.

But Mr Manning says he had to apply for planning permission for his traveller pitch after a council officer visited and asked him to apply to make his use of the land lawful.

South Holland District Council’s planning committee voted in his favour last week, despite objections from the parish council, Clough and Risegate Residents’ Association and several local residents.

Mr Manning told them: “I have lived at the property for six years but during that time I have had no complaints or problems with vehicle access, my character or the village. The complaints only started coming in when they found out the application was to provide a gypsy site.

“Although I am not ashamed, I did not want to make it public knowledge as I did not want it to affect my son’s education.”

Mr Manning told councillors it had become difficult to find suitable stopping places and gypsy sites were “volatile” places to live.

However, objector and resident Francis Hughes said he did not believe the land was owned by Mr Manning, but by his partner and her grandmother. He voiced a number of concerns, including how Mr Manning’s pitch at Stable Farm was close to the illegal gypsy and traveller site at Broad Drove.

Mr Hughes said the council “cannot judge on one site without judging on others”.

Coun James Avery said he had not noticed Mr Manning’s as he had driven by, but had noticed the polytunnels and greenhouses nearby. “If I was to object, I would object to those,” he said. “You can hardly see the residence we are talking about because it is discreet.”

Coun Bryan Alcock said he could “fully understand” why nearby residents had concerns with the unauthorised site in Broad Drove still being used.

He said: “It has been going on down there for some time and we appear to be doing nothing about it. Sitting here on the authority, we know a lot has been going on but I can understand the residents being alarmed.”

He added: “But on the face of it this application does seem that it has the appropriate recommendation on it.”

Councillors added a condition on granting approval, to only give planning permission to Mr Manning, his widow and dependants.

Permission would be revoked if Mr Manning and his family left the site.