‘Plenty of bricks and mortar housing available elsewhere’ says Planning Inspectorate after dashing Wisbech gyspy family’s hopes

The South Brink, Wisbech, site refused permission for a gypsy family to build two homes

The South Brink, Wisbech, site refused permission for a gypsy family to build two homes - Credit: Archant

Widespread community support – including the backing of a district councillor- failed to persuade Fenland planners and now the Planning Inspect to allow a gypsy family to replace caravans with bricks and mortar.

Priscilla Rose Wilson and Elias Cunningham said the homes north east of Golden View, North Brink, Wisbech, would replace mobile homes that they say can’t be put there for fear of flooding.

They felt that permanent homes would work better and with a “safe room space refuge to comply with the flood risk” it would overcome objections.

The couple also argued that the family had sought advice from the Environment Agency who backed their contention that a house would be more suitable accommodation.

The site is located at the Wisbech St Mary end of North Brink and the couple told the council, then the Planning Inspectorate, that many neighbours supported them.

“We look out for each other. We see us as a small hamlet not open countryside; there is no farmed land near us only the orchards to the rear of properties which is not arable land.”

They added; “To say that the dwellings are not considered demonstrably essential in the countryside, surely it is a human right to be able to live safely as directed by the local council. Effectively they have made us homeless.

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“They have made no attempt to address this or seek an alternative accommodation. What are we to do?”

The couple say there are five generations of their family living locally, 135 family members not counting gypsy/traveller relatives by marriage.

Councillor Gavin Booth felt the application resolved flooding issues and supported it.

But Fenland Council’s refusal has now been supported by the Planning Inspectorate who said he could find “no potential justification” for housing on the site.

The inspector said he had no reason to disagree with Fenland Council’s “uncontested evidence” about flood risk.

“I find that it would be likely to have an unacceptable effect in respect to flood risk,” he said.

He also said it would result in a “discordant form of development” and he said two homes would make only “a modest contribution” to meeting housing need locally.

Referring to the human rights issue brought up at the appeal he said: “This is a qualified right and interference may be justified where in the public interest. The concept of proportionality is crucial.”

The inspector said there was a “reasonable range of existing bricks and mortar housing available elsewhere” in the district albeit the extended family would not be housed together.