Simon has been elected as the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Councillor for the Pamber and Silchester Ward and has resigned as Chairman of Silchester Parish Council in order to spend the time required on the Borough job.
Simon recently attended a meeting in Sherfield Park where the subject of discussion was a recently authorised traveller pitch at Dixon Road, Sherfield on Loddon. see link below
The history of the Dixon road site was similar to our site in Silchester insofar as the site was unlawfully occupied over a weekend (including the destruction of over 200 trees) and then a retrospective planning application was submitted to BDBC. The application was for a three caravan site however, after being turned down by the planning officers at Basingstoke, a revised application for one caravan (plus an associated day room) was submitted. The revised application was also turned down by the local planning team. The concerning thing, however, is that the application was
then approved when it went to appeal at the planning inspectorate. The Inspector cited the fact that Basingstoke and Deane have, thus far, failed to deliver on the traveller sites that have been allocated within the Local Plan. Although regrettable, this failure is not actually the fault of the Council as it is reliant upon local developers to bring forward the developments that have been proposed and approved. As it stands, these sites are not on track and subsequently the Inspector found in favour of the applicant.
The potential impact of this finding on the Silchester application is undoubtedly a matter of some concern. Simon has been discussing this with planning advisers and we remain confident that the Silchester site still has several significant planning reasons that make it unsuitable for planning
approval. We understand that the planning inspectorate is currently short of Inspectors which is causing a significant backlog in cases being brought forward for hearing. At this stage we remain uncertain about when the appeal against the enforcement at Silchester site will be heard. In the
meantime, it appears that the Silchester site has been closed back up again with an earth mound having been replaced across the entrance.
Whilst Simon was representing the Calleva Society at the meeting it was encouraging to note that it was also attended by five other Borough Councillors and one Hampshire County Councillor. This gives some indication of how significantly the issue of traveller settlements in Basingstoke has risen up the agenda and the Council are working hard on attempting to bring planned sites forward for development.
We will continue to monitor the Silchester site as well as other developments in the Borough and keep you informed if things change.
Finally we have submitted our claim for costs of the cancelled appeal against the planning determination and await the outcome……….
Simon Mahaffey & Steve Spillane