James and Barbara Doran applied to Shropshire Council for planning permission for change of use of a pony paddock in Welshampton to a single-pitch travellers’ site.
The application led to 65 objections from nearby residents who said the change of use would have a detrimental impact on the rural surroundings due to the site being in an elevated position which is visible from parts of the village and the A495.
Further concerns were raised about the paddock’s proximity to Hawthorn House – a non-designated heritage asset – as well as a Grade II listed farmhouse and wildlife habitats.
Under the submitted plans, the single pitch would have a mobile home, space for a touring caravan and two car parking spaces.
The Dorans said they had been forced to flee their previous site in Wrexham with their children at the start of the coronavirus outbreak, due to fellow travellers refusing to adhere to social distancing.
They said they had links to Shropshire and wanted to become part of the Welshampton community.
It was also claimed by the couple’s agent, Trevor Mennell Planning, in a design and access statement that there were no other suitable sites in the county.
This was however disputed by the council’s gypsy liaison officer, who said they had never enquired and that vacant pitches were in fact available.
Shropshire Council planning officers have now refused the application.
A report by case officer Shannon Franklin said: “The site constitutes isolated development in the open countryside and is classed as a rural exception site and no evidence has been provided to demonstrate that the applicant and/or his family have a strong local connection to the area.
“The proposed development will have a significant detrimental landscape and visual impact on the surrounding countryside with consideration to the relative isolation of the site in relationship to any other built development, and hence the proposal represents sporadic development which outweighs the need for an additional single family pitch.”