TRAVELLERS are arguing they have a basic human right to live near a village.
But villagers, backed by the local authority, say plans to turn a pony paddock into a site for travellers would ruin the tranquil character of the countryside.
The comments came as a three-day public inquiry has been taking place in Denmead over controversial plans for the site behind the Chairmakers Arms off Forest Road, World’s End.
Winchester City Council refused the plans for eight mobile homes, eight touring caravans and eight day rooms last year following more than 140 written objections.
But the applicants, eight Irish traveller families, appealed to the government.
The inquiry at Denmead Community Centre was overseen by planning inspector Lesley Coffey, who will make her decision in due course.
Barrister Justine Compton, representing the travellers, said: ‘They do not have settled sites. They need somewhere to live.’
She said all the men were working and the women were mainly involved in childcare.
She said: ‘There are at least nine pitches required to be provided by the council in the next two years.
‘There’s a clear and urgent need for these pitches. The houses of bricks and mortar and the houses of gypsies and travellers are on an equal footing.’
She quoted Article 8 of the Human Rights Act, arguing that everyone has the right to a private and family life.
She added: ‘There would be numerous children within the appeal site. It would offer a settled base to them so they can access schools and healthcare.’
Trevor Ward, a barrister representing the local authority, said: ‘There can be no doubt the site is in open countryside removed from any settlements or facilities. There are no public transport facilities serving the site.’
He said it ‘flew in the face of government policy to only allow permissions in sustainable locations’, adding: ‘It simply does not meet that. The remoteness is compounded by the lack of any pavements or any street lights.’
He said local plans noted it for being ‘tranquil countryside’.
The inquiry came to an end yesterday and the decision will be published in the coming weeks.