'˜Worst planning decision in my time as MP' - Anger at approval for traveller pitch in Peterborough

The worst decision in my 11 years as an MP - that was Stewart Jackson's verdict after planning approval was given for a traveller pitch in Eye.

Wednesday, 28th September 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:18 pm
Stewart Jackson MP EMN-160918-194957009

The Peterborough MP and local residents were both angered by the decision taken by the city council’s planning committee on Tuesday.

Mr Jackson was one of five objectors who made a passionate case for the application to be refused.

One objector, Councillor Steve Allen, even spoke of a “large, underground bunker for the establishment of a sophisticated cannabis farm” which had been discovered at the site in Crowland Road.

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But despite the strong feelings the committee was not swayed, prompting heated remarks from the public gallery when its decision was made.

Yet amid the anger, the traveller who had put in the application thanked councillors for giving him a home and walked off with his family.

The issues raised against the application included the flood risk, a loss of amenity for neighbours and a narrow access road. It was also claimed that Eye already had its fair share of travellers’ pitches.

Cllr Allen, one of the three local councillors said to be against the application, stated: “It is indeed a location felt by many to be toxic in every sense of the word.”

Mr Jackson added: “I think this is a completely unsuitable and inappropriate site.

“The reason you do not have witnesses here is because of fear of retribution arising from the previous criminal activity that took place.”

Barry Nichols, agent for the application, said single traveller pitches had worked elsewhere in the city. He added: “This will resolve the historic issue of the current owner.”

Committee member Cllr Peter Hiller said he was uneasy with the rhetoric used about travellers and warned that previous decisions to refuse travellers sites had been overturned on appeal at a cost to the council.

Cllr Lucia Serluca was one of three councillors to vote against the application. She stated it would be better to see a house built on the site.