VILLAGERS in Bromham are celebrating after a planning inspector dismissed an appeal by a family of Irish travellers who wanted to set up home in the village.
Hundreds of people had written to Wiltshire Council to protest at the plan for a traveller pitch on land in New Road and were delighted when the council turned down the application.
But in January an appeal was heard against the decision and inspector Richard Clegg was told that Douglas Ward and his wife Mary-Ann had fallen out with gypsy patriarch Patrick Ward.
Mr Ward snr had told his son that he and his family had to leave a gypsy site in Semington, near Melksham, and that he was going to let other members of the extended family take over their pitch.
In his findings Mr Clegg said that the main issue was the effect of the proposed development on the character and appearance of the area. He said in his report: "This location is outside the limits of development for Bromham."
He said that the Wiltshire Core Strategy made it clear that development outside the boundary should be strictly controlled. He also pointed out that policy stated that new traveller sites should be very strictly limited in open countryside.
He said: "The centre of Bromham is within walking distance from the appeal site, but New Road has no footways or lighting. I note that the Council’s Highways Development Control Officer has expressed concerns about the location of the site and considers that residential use would be heavily reliant on the use of private vehicles.
"Given the nature of New Road, it is likely that most journeys to and from the proposed pitch would be made by car, particularly for shopping and during inclement weather and the hours of darkness."
Mr Clegg also looked at the background of the Greenacres site in Semington where Mr Ward had been living but was no longer wanted. He said: "I heard that this change was due to a breakdown in family relationships. I acknowledge that, on the position set out at the hearing, the appellant will not be allocated a pitch there.
"However the breakdown in relationships has not been so severe as to prevent the family doubling-up there whilst this appeal is pursued, and circumstances may change again in the future."
He decided that the need to protect the countryside outweighed the interference of the family's human rights. He also said that although the Wards as Irish Travellers were a distinct racial group and the need for pitches might indicate an inequality in housing opportunities for Irish Travellers it was not sufficient to outweigh the serious harm to the character and appearance of the area the plan would cause.