A PERMANENT stone-built day room on a gypsy and traveller site in Bampton has been approved despite claims it will become “a unit of self-contained accommodation”. 

West Oxfordshire District Council’s Lowlands Area Planning Sub-Committee unanimously gave the green light for the building at The Paddocks, Weald Street, Bampton, in line with officer recommendations that includes the caveat it will be used for “no other purpose”. 

Bampton Parish Council’s submission, included in the pre-meeting report, read: “We do not consider this to be a day room ancillary to a static and travelling caravan, and we consider that this is a unit of self-contained accommodation.”

Kelly Murray, senior planning officer for West Oxfordshire District Council, said the proposals are compliant with policies for travelling communities and central government guidance, adding: “That guidance specifically says that it is essential amenity buildings are provided on each plot.”

“The proposed building is going to occupy a fairly unobtrusive position at the back of the plot, it is not going to be immediately visible from the (adjacent) conservation area”, she continued, citing that similar sized and positioned buildings exist on the site’s other plots. 

“Officers consider that the proposed building would have health and hygiene benefits and would improve the residential amenity of the occupiers,” she said in recommending approval.

Councillor Ted Fenton (Con, Bampton and Clanfield), chair of the planning committee, said: “The Paddocks come to us fairly frequently and we have to be very careful to restrict what we consider at this meeting to this particular proposal.

“The parish council’s objection, the supposition that it will not remain day accommodation, is not something we can consider.

“There is no self-contained accommodation proposed, we are considering something that is ancillary to the caravans on this plot and I would urge members to stick to that point.”

The only concern raised by the committee came from Councillor Nick Leverton (Con, Carterton South) who sought to clarify whether the permanent structure would “set a precedent”. He asked: “Are we exposing ourselves for the future?”

“No, I don’t think so,” said Kelly Murray. 

“What is permitted is a caravan site. It is not the same as saying each caravan can be taken away and replaced by a house.

“We are looking at each application and each plot on an individual basis. I think if it got to the stage where so many buildings were being proposed that there would not be any room for caravans, I don’t think that would be acceptable.

“Each proposal is judged in relation to its context. At the stage where people can’t move or there are material planning impacts then no, we would not be allowing further development.”