Planning hearing held at Porthtowan to consider Gypsy family's appeal to live on greenfield site
A PLANNING hearing was held to consider a Gypsy family's right to live on a piece of greenfield land on the outskirts of Porthtowan.
Gary Emmins bought the site at Pirates, Chapel Hill, so he, his wife and daughter could return to their previous lifestyle after more than a decade living in a council house.
But last May Cornwall Council rejected his proposal for a change of use for the land to site a "log cabin" and a touring caravan, and retain a portable building.
Mr Emmins lodged an appeal against the decision.
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Some local people were also against the application.
At last Wednesday's hearing in Camborne, planning inspector Gerry Hollington said in his view there were five issues to consider: whether Mr Emmins was truly a Gypsy; whether the proposed site was a sustainable location; whether it was a safe location; whether the development would have an adverse visual impact on the area; whether Cornwall Council's failure to provide Gypsy sites should be a factor in the appeal decision.
Mr Emmins' representative, Angus Murdoch, said there was no doubt he was a true Romany Gypsy, born to Gypsy parents.
He lived a nomadic lifestyle, but had spent recent years in a council house while his daughter went through the education system.
Dr Murdoch highlighted Cornwall Council's failure to provide Gypsy sites, in the face of "the highest level of need anywhere in the country".
He said there was a need for 297 pitches in Cornwall, and stressed that Cornwall Council did not even have a strategy to deal with the issue.
He suggested this alone was grounds for the inspector to find in Mr Emmins' fav- our.
Peter Blackshaw, Cornwall Council's principal development officer, argued that Mr Emmins' Gypsy ethnicity was not conclusive.
The site was not sustainable, because it was too far from shops and services, and was not on a bus route.
There was no footway along the road, posing highway safety issues.
And there were concerns about the visual impact of the development.
Councillor Jim Noonan, from St Agnes Parish Council, said Mr Emmins' ethnicity was not a factor in local opposition to the development.
He said: "We're looking at Mr Emmins as we would any other person wishing to move on to that land. It's a piece of greenfield land in an unsustainable location."
The inspector's decision is not expected for several weeks.