Gypsy site an 'experiment' claim

PUBLISHED: 14:36 15 July 2008 | UPDATED: 22:04 15 June 2010

AXMINSTER residents have been outraged by plans to set up gypsy traveller pitches in the town.

AXMINSTER residents have been outraged by plans to set up gypsy traveller pitches in the town.East Devon County Council's proposal to put nine permanent gypsy traveller pitches at Monkton Wyld Cross, Raymonds Hill, was met by strong opposition during the town council meeting on Monday night.Residents argued they had not been given much notification of the plans and that such a change of use of land would devalue their property.But one resident, who did not wish to be named, told the Herald they felt such emotive factors should not come into play and the humanitarian aspect should be looked at.Acting as a spokesman, Raymonds Hill resident David Beddows spoke against the plans. He said: "It feels as if it is a social and policy experiment which should not be encouraged for Raymonds Hill."It is probable that millions of pounds could be wiped off property values in the area affected in an already falling market."In all probability, those properties bordering the proposed development will, if this application is approved, become unsaleable due to its close proximity to a fixed residential area."Saying it would also affect tourism and local business, Mr Beddows called on councillors to reject the application.He asked EDDC to look for more suitable alternatives, rather than just looking to fulfil their target of an extra nine pitches by 2011.Town councillors, highlighting the application should only be judged on its planning merits, recommended the plans should not go ahead.Councillor Chris Scott referred to a planning application made last year for nine holiday chalets which was turned down, and said he could see no reason to accept this plan now.He added: "It's a very tricky application and we have a lot of missing information. "It's also a question of ecology. If the children [of the gypsies] are going to go to school, they will have to catch a bus as there's a shortage of footpaths." He felt there would be more traffic and councillor John Jeffries argued that access to the site was still dangerous.Cllr Jeffries also pointed out there was another gypsy site only 1.6 miles away, in Hawkchurch.Residents opposed to the plan signed a petition and a letter acknowledging their objection. They were also advised to write to EDDC.EDDC said it has an obligation from the government to provide the right number and the right type of facilities for people "of nomadic habit of life, whatever their race or origin".

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