Six caravan traveller camp approved for family on field in Stretham
- Credit: Archant
A traveller camp to house a family - who had to leave Smithy Fen after their caravan was burnt out - was approved for an overgrown field near Stretham.
The site off a lay-by on the A10 will have six caravans including two mobile homes, a play area and stable block.
It will be a permanent base for the O'Brien family who are currently homeless with four children.
Their caravan was "burnt out during Christmas 2016" on the Smithy Fen Travellers' site in Cottenham following "harassment from a family who sought to control the site", according to planning documents.
The three-acre field between Stretham and Little Thetford was bought by Jimmy O'Brien 15 years ago and used for keeping horses until they escaped.
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Plans were approved by East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) at their planning committee meeting last Wednesday (January 8).
The family are now seeking a "base where they can establish a home and travel for employment".
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However, an objection was lodged by Little Thetford Parish Council over concerns of traffic safety, which would be next to Saunders Piece Caravan and Camping.
"It is on a dangerous part of the A10 where the lay-by is used by lots of lorries and is on a bend," they stated.
But planning officer, Richard Fitzjohn, felt the site "would not have a detrimental impact of the current landscape or character of the countryside".
He added: "The presence of caravans in this area of the countryside is already an established feature.
"It would not significantly exacerbate tensions in the community."
In a letter of support from a member of the public in Cockburn Street, Cambridge, it read: "I have known the family for a number of years and they are people of good character.
"They have struggled to remain in one place in order to provide their children with an education.
"There is need for a total of 1745 additional pitches for travellers in the South East of England.
"The council currently provides 21 pitches for travellers."
The design and access statement submitted by Michael Hargreaves Planning, on behalf of Mr O'Brien, said that the proposals would make "effective use of what was an untidy and derelict site to positively enhance the environment."
The highways authority raised no objections.
A wooden gate would be added at the entrance and solar panels used.
Government planning policy says that traveller sites should be in "rural or semi-rural settings and not dominate the nearest settled community".