Travellers' site gets go ahead in Thornbury - full report
A PLANT nursery in Thornbury will become home to travellers, despite a swell of local opposition against the move.
A total of six residential caravan and two transit pitches will be created at Tytherington Road Nursery, complete with six day rooms and a toilet block, after planning bosses gave the Fry family the green light to turn the four-acre field into a travellers' site.
The decision came as a shock to nearby residents, as well as members of Thornbury Town Council and Tytherington Parish, who packed out South Gloucestershire Council's chamber in Thornbury at a meeting of the development west committee last Thursday in an attempt to thwart the plans.
Their many concerns included the drop in property value around the site and the dangers of allowing a family of 13 children to live so close to a quarry, as well as the loss of amenity and the issue of building outside Thornbury's development boundary.
Angela Ashton, a member of Grovesend Action Group who lost the sale of her house just days after the application was lodged, urged councillors in a tearful plea to look at the facts and throw out the proposal.
"Eight weeks ago we sold our house securing a perfect home in Thornbury," she said. "Our buyers pulled out for the specific reason that the land had been purchased for the intended use of a Gypsy and traveller site.
"I appeal from my absolute heart that the committee make an unbiased decision."
She was backed by Tytherington Parish Council chairman Roger Unwin, who said the application had caused more concern in the community than any other since he joined the council six years ago.
Although worried about the practicality of introducing an efficient drainage system and the proximity of Tytherington Road Nursery to the quarry, members felt the need for more traveller pitches to be allocated in South Gloucestershire had to be given serious weight.
Cllr Howard Gawler said: "We are going to have to find a number of sites over the next few years to cover our requirement."
He added that the family's history in the town should be taken into consideration.
"This family have been in this area for at least 60 years," he added. "They are part of the community. Their children are in our schools in Thornbury."
Out of the ten councillors present, five voted in favour of the scheme, with one against and four abstentions.
Sally Woodbury, the agent to the Fry family, said members had made the right decision.
"We are all very pleased," she said. "I'm very impressed with the council that they did the right thing. This is the way forward."
But their decision was blasted by residents who felt their concerns had been swept under the carpet.
The fact that the committee, normally formed of 13 councillors, was down to ten members as three were absent was also heavily criticised.
Speaking of behalf of residents, Peter Tyzack, a former chairman of the development committee, told the Gazette after the meeting: "Four of those present took no part in the discussion, asked no questions and appeared quite disinterested. Those four abstained from voting.
"What was a very difficult decision was discussed and decided by six people, less than half of the number who should have been deliberating."
Mrs Ashton added: "It is outrageous. We have been totally ignored."
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