Gipsy families given permission to stay at site in Langham

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Two gipsy families have been given the green light to permanently live on land they own in Langham despite some villagers objecting.

Rutland County Council granted permission for the Price and Lee families to stay at The Paddocks in Oakham Road at a development control and licensing committee meeting on Tuesday evening.

The Romany families have eight caravans on four pitches on the land, which they moved to in 2008. They were given temporary permission for the site for five years.

In 2011, the families applied for permanent permission but instead the temporary permission was extended until December 2014.

Planning officers recommended their latest application, which was submitted in March, for approval.

Councillors granted permission for permanent occupation of the site at Tuesday’s meeting but with a number of conditions.

The conditions are; that only the two families can live on the land; only the four existing pitches should be on the site; lighting is controlled; no commercial activities should take place on the land; and that hedge and tree planting around the site should be maintained at height of no less than three metres.

However, some villages have voiced their disapproval at the council’s decision to allow the families to remain on the land.

The site is on greenfield land and Langham resident Pat Lee believes permission should have been refused.

Pat, 63, who lives in Sharrad Way, said: “The reasons for it being refused before was that it was on greenfield land and harms the rural character and appearance of the area. Nothing has changed so the decision should not have changed. And no other traveller site would be allowed on the land so it cannot be a designated traveller site.

“I have no problem with the families. They are nice people who keep themselves to themselves but permission should not have been granted.

“The council seems to have set a precedent that if you build on greenfield land and apply to stay, they can’t move you.”

In April, a group of villagers submitted plans for a travellers site on the sports field at the former Ashwell Prison site in the hope that the families could move there.

They believed it was a more suitable environment for the gipsies because it is on brownfield land owned by Rutland County Council.

Some villagers were in support of the families staying in Langham.