MERIDEN residents are celebrating after plans to build a gypsy camp on green-belt land were thrown out by the planning committee.
Around 100 residents packed into Solihull Council House to see the members vote unanimously to reject the proposals.
Councillors agreed with a report that said the 10-pitch site, in Eaves Green Lane, would harm the area’s rural character.
Before the meeting, crowds of residents waving placards had marshalled outside. Then it was indoors to hear the arguments thrashed out.
Doug Bacon, vice-chairman of Residents Against Inappropriate Development (RAID), said he was speaking on behalf of hundreds of locals: “The site is classic green-belt, undeveloped and unspoiled on the edge of our village,” he told councillors. It is simply the wrong place irrespective of need.”
Councillor David Bell (Con, Meriden) said that the community had been “traumatised” by the proposals.
Since the caravans had arrived, on May Bank Holiday, the locals have been holding a 24-hour vigil.
Noah Burton, who submitted the application, argued that there was no provision for gypsies.
“We don’t feel the council has done enough to provide sites in the area for us to live.
“I would also say that we’re local gypsies, not from any other part of the world. I have lived here since I was a child and have had five children at Solihull Hospital.”
While the council has kicked the application into the long-grass, the gypsies can still appeal to the planning inspectorate.
David McGrath, RAID’s chairman, said the campaign group would fight “all the way”.
* PLANS to build 18 homes on the back-gardens of Widney Manor Road were also rejected at the meeting. For a full report, see next week’s Solihull News or visit www.solihullnews.net.