A gypsy and traveller site near Nantwich is set to expand from four pitches to 10, writes Stephen Topping.

Cheshire East Council’s southern planning committee unanimously approved plans to increase capacity at Baddington Park, off the A530 in Baddington, at Wednesday’s meeting.

Officers recommended the plans for approval due to a shortfall in permanent traveller pitches across the borough – but previous council documents suggested the site should accommodate fewer caravans than proposed.

Cllr Penny Butterill, independent member for Nantwich North and West, warned the committee about the scheme’s potential impact on Nantwich and the A530 Baddington Lane out of town.

She said: “The road leading out of Nantwich is notorious for accidents and floods. It isn’t that long ago that we had Shrewbridge Road flooded, which went onto Baddington Lane.

“There is no footpath on this road and no cycle path – and a cyclist has been killed on this piece of road.”

Conservative Cllr Rachel Bailey, the ward member for Baddington, called for the plans to be deferred.

She suggested the scheme was ‘premature’ given the council is still developing the second part of its local plan, otherwise known as the site allocations and development policies document (SADPD), which earmarks the site for eight gypsy and traveller pitches rather than 10.

And the former council leader pointed to a 2014 report from consultants Peter Brett, which suggested that ‘any further extension’ of Baddington Park ‘would increase the adverse effects of the development and should be avoided’.

Further objections were lodged by Sound and District Parish Council, while CEC received 11 letters of objection.

Craig Odams, who lives opposite the site, told the committee: “The development would completely change the balance between the caravan site and the community – us.

“The expanded caravan site would dominate our community two to one.”

But Philip Brown, representing the applicant, insisted that objections to the site being extended were ‘misconceived’ – and suggested they were more suitable than similar plans in Moston, which were recently approved at appeal.

He said: “The council has had to undertake three calls for sites in order to identify enough land to meet gypsy accommodation needs in the district, which points to the scarcity of land available for this purpose, and also explains why the Peter Brett report is no longer relevant.

“Of the land found to be available, extension at Baddington Park has been judged by the council to be one of its preferred options.

“This isn’t surprising, because the proposed development adds to an existing gypsy site, rather than developing a completely new site which, in either case, will be in the countryside.”

Opening the debate, Cllr Allen Gage told the committee he had had seen the existing traveller site on a regular basis while waiting at the nearby traffic lights.

The Conservative member for Willaston and Rope said: “I have never seen any chaos on that site. It has always looked prim and proper – it has always come across as a sleepy little encampment that keeps itself to itself.

“If people in the area are concerned about social cohesion, I suggest they take time to speak to their neighbours and extend the hand of friendship.”

Cllr David Marren, independent member for Shavington and Nantwich town councillor, added that the land in question seemed a ‘natural extension’ for the traveller site and that he did not see it having a negative impact on Nantwich.

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