Councillors will next week decide a planning application for change of use of a pony paddock just outside Welshampton to a single-pitch traveller site.
The site has been home to James and Barbara Doran and their young children since early last year, with the family claiming they were forced to flee their previous site in Wrexham at the start of the coronavirus outbreak due to fellow travellers not adhering to regulations.
Planning officers refused the family’s first application last year, on the grounds that the site was in ‘open countryside’, close to listed buildings, and the plans would have an unacceptable visual impact on the area.
However the family stayed put and lodged a revised application, which officers now say should be granted temporary planning permission for two years.
Trevor Mennell Planning, agent to the Dorans, said the family had become settled in the village and been welcomed into the community since the earlier plans were submitted.
The agent said in a statement: “James and Barbara have now sustained a good relationship with local villagers, some who regularly call to visit when opportunities prevailed under current Covid restrictions.”
The couple’s third child has been born while they have been living in Welshampton and the two older children are attending the village school, the statement added.
A report to the planning committee said the retrospective application will allow for the siting of a static caravan, a touring caravan, an amenity block and parking.
Welshampton and Lyneal Parish Council objected to the plans along with dozens of members of the public and Councillor Brian Williams, who represents The Meres.
The parish council urged the committee to refuse permission, and said Shropshire Council should “commence enforcement action immediately to deal with the unauthorised occupation”.
Councillor Williams added: “In the application there is considerable stress laid upon the personal circumstances of the applicant but ‘personal circumstances’ are not recognised in the planning process and have not, to my knowledge, been allowed to sway other applications.”
The planning officers’ report says the application is in conflict with the council’s planning policies, though when balanced against the family’s personal circumstances it concludes that temporary permission should be granted for two years.
The council’s northern planning committee will meet to decide the application next Tuesday, November 23.
A planning enforcement case relating to the site is being held in abeyance, pending the outcome of the application.