A CONTROVERSIAL application for a gypsy site was due to be discussed by councillors last night (Tuesday), after nearly 20 years of wrangling.
The partly retrospective application for a permanent gypsy and traveller site on land at Willow Farm, Jackets Lane, Harefield, was supposed to be heard in January this year but was deferred twice because of errors with the plans and updates at short notice.
Michael Connors and his family have been living there since at least 2003, when they first made an application for a private family site.
Despite refusals and eviction action by Hillingdon Council they have been permitted a series of temporary arrangements by the planning inspector, mostly on the grounds of Mr Connors’ ill health and the educational needs of some of the children in the family.
A number of family members have moved off the site since a planning inspector last gave temporary approval, in 2007, although Mr Connors’ health problems persist, a report by council officers says. The children have now completed their schooling.
The report recommends the application for the site, which is on green belt land, is refused because the detrimental effect it would have on the character of the area.
Sixty-four people have signed a petition against the plans, as well as nine neighbours who submitted objections separately. They are worried about the erosion of green belt status.
MP for Harefield, Nick Hurd (Con), has said he is opposed to the proposals. Three people have written to the council in support of the plans.
The officers’ report, due to go before the north planning committee last night (Tuesday) said: “It is considered that the personal circumstances of the family as a whole are a material consideration, but officers are not convinced that the health needs of Mr Michael Connors are now so significant that they justify a permanent approval.”
If evicted, the family could be forced to return to a travelling lifestyle if no alternative accommodation is found.
n For last night’s decision, see www.uxbridgegazette.co.uk