Mention the word ‘travellers’ and most people will very quickly form an opinion in their mind.
Mention them moving on to land near your home, and that opinion will quickly harden in many cases.
So it’s no surprise to see that the meeting held at the weekend in Hambledon about plans to turn a pony paddock into a travellers’ site was extremely well-attended.
Residents are understandably worried about not only what this will mean to them and their lives, but what it will mean for the land in question.
The residents, who are not pleased with the proposal are hoping planning law will come to the rescue.
They’re claiming that were the land to be used as a travellers’ site, it would not fit with current rules as that use would not help promote agriculture, as outlined in the rules.
The counter argument, voiced by Councillor Kirk Phillips, is that the travellers have every right to apply to use the land.
This was backed up by local MP George Hollingbery, who said the travellers have a right to family life and a home.
But Mr Hollingbery went on to give the residents some very sound advice – seek the help of a planning expert.
In a situation like this, simply saying ‘well I don’t like that’ is simply not enough.
Cold hard facts are what’s needed to win an argument over planning.
While of course, we understand the everyone has to go somewhere, this land doesn’t seem exactly ideal.
Not only would it impact those living nearby, but it’s on a 60mph limit road, which can only be a danger to road-users.
So we hope that common sense prevails when this matter comes before Winchester City Council later in the summer.
And judging by the turnout at the weekend’s meeting, so do the locals.