West Northamptonshire Council (WNC) has approved plans to change a traveller’s residential site to a showman’s family quarters – despite over 70 objections from residents in the area. The site, which has been home to the applicant’s family since 1974, is based at Ferndown and Pastures Farm, northeast of Hannington and close to the A43.
It is currently used for residential and equestrian needs but will be expanded to accommodate the family’s growing size and the storing of fairground rides after council approval was given in a meeting on Tuesday, October 17.
Objections to the application were registered to WNC by over 70 members of the public and parish councils in the surrounding area, as well as a petition that garnered over 200 signatures. The main concerns highlighted the development in the open countryside detracting from the rural area, as well as road safety.
Councillor Daryl Basford, a member of Hannington Parish Council, raised worries the site was “half the size” of the village and it should be “considerably smaller than that”. He said: “All we are asking for as a parish council is that it remains as it is. A single dwelling isolated from the village in the open space that is tied to agriculture and equestrian use.”
The proposed site is seven hectares while the estimated size of Hannington is 13 hectares. There are four generations living at the site in Wooford Halse, and the existing site is no longer big enough to accomodate all of the family’s vehicles.
Walgrave Parish Councillor, Andy Laker, raised concerns that the plans didn’t “offer full consideration” on the “effects on the local area, rural infrastructure, and facilities required”.
Cllr Laker also said that the A43 nearby to the site regularly has closures due to accidents, and on occasions, roads through the village become “rat runs” for traffic. He said that in that case “the possible movement of showman’s vehicles could cause considerable disruption and damage to local roads, and present a danger to pedestrians”.
However, the Highways Officer has reviewed the roads and found that though there were six crashes at the crossroads, the site would not “make the existing situation worse or require mitigation”. The understanding is that the family would leave the site in Easter for carnival season, and most likely not return in full until winter.
Agent for the application, Nick Baseley, said: “My clients are hardworking, tax-paying members of the Daventry community, having lived in the district for the past 50 years and deserving of a safer site. The level of overcrowding on the existing site is not something that would be accepted or tolerated for any other sector of society.”
Woodford cum Membris Parish Council submitted a document praising the family, saying they have always kept the site “in a clean and organised condition”, there have been no noise complaints, and they have engaged in the community.
To try to alleviate some residents’ worries about the site, the council set out conditions for the expansion including restrictions on ride testing hours and an operational traffic management plan.
The site will also maintain a wildflower meadow and a woodland belt of trees and hedgerows around the perimeter to act as screening. The council voted unanimously in approval of the application.