Notts caravan site planner to 'cut out council' amid delays

Hopeful travellers' site developers, Aaron Smith (right) and son Benjamin on the plot of land off Churchfield Drive, Rainworth.
Hopeful travellers' site developers, Aaron Smith (right) and son Benjamin on the plot of land off Churchfield Drive, Rainworth.

'Gypsy site' planners have said they are going to ‘cut out the council’ after delays in deciding a controversial caravan pitch.

Aaron Smith, who describes himself as the ‘only gypsy planning consultant’ in the UK said Newark & Sherwood District Council is two months late in making a decision, although the council said they had agreed an extension with the applicant to re-consult the public over amended plans.

The plan to build a travellers' site for 18 caravans complete with amenities, fencing, plumbing and CCTV off Churchfield Drive was submitted in November.

Having now passed the two-month time limit for a council to make a decision, he said Newark & Sherwood District Council is bound to refuse the plan based on strong local opposition, so he is going to circumvent the authority and apply for an appeal to the government’s Planning Inspectorate.

He said: “We’re now two months overdue, so while we’re waiting to be refused we’ve decided to cut Newark & Sherwood out.

It is understood counter-bids have been made for the land, and Mr Smith added that the reception from local people has been ‘more trouble than its worth’.

“I’m even thinking of pulling out of the deal with the land owner. If the people want to buy the land let them buy it, if they put a better bid in than me I'm not too worried," he added.

“If I build that site their homes will go down from £150k to £100k. That’s all they’re worried about.”

The plan prompted controversy with hundreds of people joining a group against the plan citing the proximity to an adjacent care home.

Newark and Sherwood District Council said the planning application was received on November 26, 2016. Planning officers met with the applicant on January 27 to discuss outstanding issues and he agreed that further information would be provided in the form of an amended plan and amended ecology scheme. Officers made clear that they would need to re-consult the public on the changes, which the applicant agreed. The applicant also agreed to formally extend the time for a planning decision to be made but we have not received formal confirmation of this in writing.

“Residents were re-consulted on the February 21, 2017. That consultation closes on the March 9, 2017. Officers will then look to gather all of the comments before recommending a decision for determination. The applicant has expressed his intention to appeal again non-determination but this has not yet been received by the council.”

The government’s Planning Inspectorate said: “Once a planning application has been validated, the local planning authority should make a decision on the proposal as quickly as possible, and within the statutory time limit of 8 weeks unless a longer period is agreed in writing with the applicant.

“If the local authority has not made a decision within the statutory or agreed period, the applicant has a right to appeal to the Planning Inspectorate against non-determination.”