Rural residents were celebrating after a controversial plan for 12 travellers’ pitches was turned down.

After 90 minutes of debate and speeches, Tendring Council's development control committee voted to reject the application at Green Lane in Crockleford Heath.

There was a tense atmosphere at Wednesday’s meeting, as about 100 members of the public loudly clapped and booed speakers and councillors.

Three residents' representatives spoke against the application, arguing that that the site was unsuitable for the area.

And there were mixed cheers and boos when applicant's wife Joanne Banks spoke in defence of the plans.

She said: “Our application has been submitted to give us a chance to settle down and live in a safe environment.

“I have read the letters of objection and I have found them very hurtful.

“People do not understand that not all people are tarred with the same brush.

“I wish people took the time to read everything before making upsetting comments about us.”

She said that the council had also received a letter from the couple's child, explaining why she was hoping to settle in the village.

Planning officers had recommended the plans for refusal on the basis that they would have a “more than minimal” effect on the countryside, and would “seriously erode the spacious, open character and visual appearance of the locality”.

Councillors also raised concerns about the safety of a local sewage plant planned for the site and a lack of easy access to services, while there were also fears that that site might be claimed by Colchester for its gypsy provision.

A last-minute development also emerged, as a letter arrived from the Secretary of State on the morning of the meeting, with concerns that a successful application on the site would go against the local plan for the area.

Councillors were told the letter meant they could still turn the plans down, but if they were approved, the application would be frozen.

The application was refused, with 13 councillors in opposition.

Councillors Balbirnie and Johnson voted for approval, and two councillors abstained.


Gloria Geoghegan, who lives directly opposite the site in Green Lane, has fought the proposals since they were lodged.

The retired ballet teacher moved to Crockleford Heath after beating breast cancer - and feared that her dreams of a quiet retirement would be shattered by the new pitches.

She said: “I burst into floods of tears when the application was turned down.

“It's such a relief that I just feel like a limp rag.

“I haven't got the physical or mental energy to feel jubilant about it yet.”

She added: “This situation has brought many residents to the verge of a nervous breakdown.”

Susan Burns, also of Crockleford Heath, added: “We are absolutely delighted.

“It was a fair decision, and I think the councillors voted well. Our argument was very strong.

“We are over the moon.”

However, Christine Atkins from Parsons Heath, who has friends in the travelling community, said she was sad to see the application refused.

She said: “I think that 12 pitches may have been too many, but I think it was a perfect location for a travellers' site “I think the decision to turn it down was more political than anything else.”

She added: “There needs to be more provision for travellers.”