Chobham travellers seek to stay at Pennypot Lane

Image caption,
An assessment said more sites were needed for travellers but the council rejected the findings

Travelling showmen who have been living on a field in Chobham have applied to stay there permanently.

Surrey Heath council was considering a planning application for the Pennypot Lane site on Monday, but members have been recommended to refuse the plan.

Caravans first arrived on the former agricultural field in 2002.

The council served enforcement notices and the group made several applications and appeals but the travellers were ordered to leave.

The Showmen's Guild has said there is no legitimate reason for the council to refuse the application.

Green belt land

It has also said the council has failed to justify rejecting the West Surrey Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA), which found a need for additional sites for travelling showpeople in Surrey Heath.

Council papers prepared for the planning committee said allowing the group to stay would be inappropriate green belt development.

The group had failed to show special personal circumstances that would outweigh harm to the countryside, the report added.

It also said it was accepted the group needed an alternative site, but another site in Surrey Heath or an adjoining district would serve their needs equally as well.

Regarding the GTAA, the committee report confirmed the council had consistently rejected its findings and said: "Officers are of the opinion that there is no need at the strategic level to identify plots for travelling showpeople."

The council said it had received 53 letters of objection to the plans.

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