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Travellers' site refused by planning committee
5:23pm Monday 19th August 2013 in New Forest News
PLANS to turn a piece of countryside into a permanent home for travellers have been refused after sparking almost 300 objections.
Councillors have rejected a controversial application to put two mobile homes on greenfield land at Marl Lane, Fordingbridge as well as erecting entrance gates, stables and toilets.
The site is owned by brothers Felix and Miles Connors, who run a landscaping business.
Objectors lobbied a meeting of New Forest District Council planning and development control committee and urged members to refuse the application.
Marl Lane resident Martine Browne said: “The proposed site is agricultural land and should stay as such. It would be devastating to lose this wonderful setting.”
Cllr Rosemary Fulford, representing the town council, said the area was used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders.
She added: “It’s very special to Fordingbridge and its loss would be incalculable to our town.”
District councillor Ann Sevier from Fordingbridge said: “Marl Lane is only the width of a horse and cart – it’s totally unsuitable for large vehicles going in and out. As you can see from the number of objections the people of Fordingbridge are horrified, angry and upset.”
District councillor Steve Rippon-Swaine from Ringwood said the proposal had resulted in almost 300 protests – the largest number seen by the authority for several years.
The committee rejected the application and also voted in favour of enforcement action after hearing that four caravans moved on to the site at the end of April.
One of the caravans and a portable toilet are still on the site, members were told.
Cllr Maureen Holding said: “It’s spoiling a beautiful area and the sooner it’s put back to what it was, the better.”
Last month more than 100 people packed a meeting at Fordingbridge Town Hall at which the application was discussed.
They heard that the Connors brothers wanted to put down roots, enabling their children to attend regular school and have access to NHS care.
But objectors claimed that more than the two caravans proposed would be parked on the site if the scheme was approved.
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