Plans to allow gypsy traveller pitches at a beauty spot near the gateway to Caerphilly county borough have been rejected by councillors.
Caerphilly County Borough Council’s planning committee threw out proposals to retain five pitches which have already been set up on land at Rhymney Bridge, locally known as the Old Station House – and called for enforcement action to follow at a meeting on Wednesday, December 4.
Each pitch was proposed to include a mobile home, a touring caravan and two parking spaces, accommodating five families with eight adults and nine children.
The applicant occupied the site located in a Special Landscape Area earlier this year, parking several caravans there, installing a portable building overlooking the B4527 and building a shed.
A 1.8 metre high timber fence was also erected along two sides of the site.
Cllr Carl Cuss, who represents the Twyn Carno ward, said the development had ‘angered’ residents by being set up without permission.
“There has been substantial opposition to the development from residents in the area for a number of reasons,” he said.
“The development is unlawful at present and enforcement action should be taken by the council.”
Cllr Cuss said the development would also have a “negative impact on tourism” due to its location on the gateway to the county borough.
Citing the “negative impact” of the development on the area, he called for the application to be rejected and for the issue to be referred for enforcement action “with immediate effect.”
More than 400 comments were lodged in response to the plans, many with concerns about its impact on the landscape.
A letter on behalf of the applicant called for the human rights aspects of the development to be considered, warning that refusal of the plans could result in costs to the council if overturned on appeal.
However planning officers recommended for the plans to be refused, saying the development would be “out of character with this rural area” and against the policies of the authority’s Local Development Plan.
Cllr Gaynor Oliver proposed rejecting the plans, adding “that this committee also wish to see enforcement action taken.”
Tim Stephens, development control manager at the council, explained the council would need to go through the “appropriate process” before enforcement action could be taken, including considering human rights and child protection issues in a separate report.