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Police respond to planning row over proposed Brimpton Common gypsy/traveller camp — now refused

West Berkshire Council (WBC) has put a stop to a contentious planning saga at Brimpton Common — for now.

On Saturday, March 23, police were called to resolve a civil dispute after one individual blocked another from moving a caravan onto land they owned — the former claiming they did not have planning permission.

Site of the refused gyspy/traveller camp on land between Brimpton Lane and Blacknest Lane at Brimpton Common
Site of the refused gyspy/traveller camp on land between Brimpton Lane and Blacknest Lane at Brimpton Common

A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police said: “Officers were called to a road in Brimpton Common following an issue over a caravan being moved onto land.

“It appears the disturbance related to a civil dispute. Officers attended to prevent a breach of the peace.”

The incident concerned a planning application submitted by the landowner, Mr J Slater, in December to convert an existing paddock, situated between Brimpton Lane and Blacknest Lane, into a gypsy/traveller camp accommodating a mobile home, touring caravan and one dayroom.

But WBC has since refused the application.

Explaining its decision — announced yesterday (Thursday) — it said: “The application is contrary to the advice in the West Berkshire Core Strategy 2006-2026 as it lies on a greenfield site outside any defined settlement boundary and does not meet any identified need or assist the local rural economy.”

It acknowledged while approving the application would reduce its current shortfall of gypsy site pitches in the short term, it said this was outweighed by the harm the development would cause.

Brimpton Parish Council also strongly objected to the proposal on numerous counts, including the insufficient drainage details supplied, the site’s proximity to a busy road and its lack of access to electricity and fresh water.

It also felt its location inside the Detailed Emergency Planning Zone (DEPZ) of AWE contradicted public safety and emergency planning requirements.

It said: “The current owners have illegally removed a field hedge and constructed a gateway where none previously existed.

“WBC is aware of this breach and has attempted to prevent it with a Stop Notice [in November] which has been ignored by the owners.

“This illegal gateway must be removed and the hedge re-instated.”

It continued: “If this proposal were granted, it would set a worrying precedent and encourage further unsuitable development in this field, against the agreed policies of the WBC Local Plan and the Brimpton Village Design Statement.”

BPC chairman, John Hicks, added: “The saga of the planning applications at Blacknest Field has been running for some months.

“It isn't an exaggeration to say that, as nine plots are involved and with the scope for applications and appeals, it may be years before this is settled.

“The plot owner has the right of appeal and in view of the mobile home which is already on site, it must be likely he will do so.

“We are aware a second application that covers two plots has now been submitted.

“The parish council has yet to be asked to comment on this.”

Mr Hicks confirmed the issue will be the main item up for discussion at the forthcoming parish council meeting on Tuesday, April 2.

“Each time we've had it on the agenda, there have been 40 to 50 people attending,” he added.

“To call it contentious is to underplay the depth of concern.”

The chairman of a local action group opposing the development and councillor Dominic Boeck (Con, Aldermaston) are expected to speak at the meeting.

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