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'Well-located' traveller site is given approval

By West Briton  |  Posted: January 24, 2013

Single mother Helen Birkett has won permission for three traveller pitches on her land at Mount Hawke.

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PLANNERS have approved a controversial scheme for a new traveller site in Mount Hawke.

Single mother Helen Birkett was given planning permission for three pitches, composting toilets and a utility shed on her two-acre plot near Mount Hawke Skatepark.

Cornwall Council's area planning committee also approved the continued use of two caravan sites in a neighbouring field for workers at Insite Managed Services.

Miss Birkett's proposal attracted 15 letters of objection, including from St Agnes Parish Council, citing waste and flooding concerns and the change of use from agricultural to residential.

Seventeen people, including local businesses and staff at Mount Hawke School, wrote in favour of the application.

Councillor Joyce Duffin, for Mount Hawke and Portreath, said while she understood people's concerns, the traveller site was "well located".

The planning committee was told there was a "pressing need" for traveller/Gypsy sites in Cornwall, and this scheme would help the council reach its target for 25 pitches in the former Carrick area by 2020.

Mrs Duffin said: "I know some people find it very frustrating that there is a different set of rules for Gypsy/traveller planning applications.

"However, the local authority has to go by these policies, which are set by central government.

"In the past when the council has refused planning applications, they have been won at appeal because Cornwall Council doesn't have any available sites.

"It's better to approve the application, but with agreed conditions."

The conditions restrict the number of people allowed on the site and ban commercial activities, including the storage of materials, without prior written approval.

Mrs Duffin said: "I have a reasonable amount of experience regarding Gypsy/traveller sites and policy, and I think these sites are well located. They're on the edge of the village, tucked away but within easy walking distance of the school and shops.

"The residents have been there for around 12 months and are well integrated within the village. This isn't an unknown entity that we're talking about."

Miss Birkett, who lives on the site with her son Rufus, 8, and two male friends who work and live in separate caravans, said: "I'm relieved. After months of uncertainty we can now settle, which is great for Rufus who's doing really well at Mount Hawke School."

She has already planted trees at the entrance to the site and says she now wants to create an orchard and vegetable plot.

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