Fears that ‘gap’ could be lost to traveller pitches

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DOZENS of residents have signed a petition to try to stop a travellers’ settlement being built.

An application has been put in to Winchester City Council for three pitches for mobile homes at Oak Tree Farm, on land between Waterlooville and Denmead, off Hambledon Road.

The landlords of the nearby Falcon pub have already started a petition which dozens of punters have signed. And other residents have spoken of their anger that what is considered a strategic gap may be lost to the development.

Tony Rice-Oxley, 77, who lives nearby, said: ‘Hambledon Road, just a backwater road a few years ago, has become a main highway, dangerous to cyclists and car drivers alike.

‘The farm is in the Denmead gap which has been preserved as a non-building area for many years.

‘There have been several investigations by planners into building in the gap but all have come to nothing.’

He added: ‘This application brings to a head the whole business about building in a traditional gap as well as the age-old problem of where to site travellers.

‘It is generally thought that traveller sites need to be well related to an existing community, which is certainly not the case here as can be seen from the opposition to the scheme.’

Councillor Patricia Stallard said a permanent traveller site would have a harmful impact on nearby residential properties, and building on the gap would be against the city council’s planning policy.

Last year a similar application was put forward for land behind the Chairmakers pub, on the outskirts of Denmead but nothing further happened.

Phil Rowe, the agent acting on behalf of the applicant Gary Palmer, said: ‘There is always antagonism against proposed traveller sites but there is an outstanding need for these needs to be met.

‘This is well related to the settlement boundary in terms of sustainability and meets all the criteria of the national guidance for travellers.’

He added: ‘This guidance makes it clear that sites in the countryside, including strategic gaps, are okay as long as the size of the proposal does not dominate the settled community.

‘The guidance for traveller sites is different to normal housing.’

The closing date for representations on the scheme is March 21.