Gypsy gets OK for greenbelt land

A GOVERNMENT PLANNING inspector has overturned a decision by a local council sparking fears that an influx of gypsies may descend on a patch of green belt land in Surrey, reports the Daily Mail.

Next year, Henry Smith of Ashtead, who currently lives in a caravan on his father‘s driveway will move it to a 0.8ha (two acre) plot of greenbelt, also owned by his father.

Mr Smith applied to the local council for permission to move his caravan to the site, a recognised area of outstanding natural beauty, but was refused on the basis of greenbelt planning policy.

Mr Smith‘s request to the council is based on the belief that his ‘Romany heritage has left him with an affliction to bricks and mortar‘, reports the paper.

But the local council‘s decision was subsequently overturned by the government planning inspector, Lucy Drake, who said there would be only ‘limited encroachment‘ of the green belt.

Ms Drake also stated that the needs of Mr Smith, his pregnant wife and their 18-month-old son were ‘specific, immediate and acute‘.

The paper reports that he had previously refused offers of a council house and that he had not moved to one of the 18 official travellers‘ sites in Surrey because there were no spaces.

But this claim was later challenged by Conservative MP for Mole Valley, Sir Paul Beresford, who told the paper there were spaces in nearby Epsom for which Mr Smith was eligible.

The paper also reports that the decision has angered local residents who feel the there could be an influx of caravans and other gypsies.

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