Council finally give way over permanent traveller site

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Councillors finally give way over Traveller Site.

A PERMANENT GYPSY site that was built without formal permission has been allowed to remain in place with full planning permission granted.

Members of Moray’s planning and regulatory services committee raised no objections to recommendations that the established site be granted permission.

The local authority had their hands tied over the long-running issue by a Scottish Government reporter three years ago, who on appeal granted a temporary approval of the site – after the committee had twice refused retrospective applications.

It was in 2010 that Traveller George Stewart purchased the site at Doolhill near Lhanbryde, which had already been the subject of refused planning bids. He built permanent structures and landscaped the area without having first gained permission – and when he applied retrospectively in 2011, it was refused, a decision later upheld on appeal.

However, when a second bid was refused it was overturned on appeal in 2013, the Scottish Government Reporter concluding that while the development was contrary to the council’s policy on countryside around towns, it integrated satisfactorily into the surrounding landscape and had a minimal impact on the rural character of the area.

That decision was based in part on Moray Council’s failure to identify a permanent halting site for Gypsy/Travelling families in Moray.

There were no objections to the application placed before councillors on Tuesday, with officials recommending it be accepted saying: “With the passage of time, the site has become more established and landscaping along the northern and western boundaries has further mitigated its visual impact.”

Only Council Convener Allan Wright raised any question over the site, asking if it would now be subjected to Council Tax. However, following the decision Mr Stewart confirmed that council tax had been paid for the last four years.

After hearing the committee chairman, Councillor Chris Tuke, congratulate him on the condition of the site when committee members visited, Mr Stewart said he was just thankful that the decision had finally been taken in his favour.

He said: “Even though planning officers had recommended we get permission I was not counting my chickens – now we can relax a bit.”