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Traveller family bid to remain on land at Gretna

By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Annan and Eskdale
Traveller family bid to remain on land at Gretna

A NINE-strong traveller family who faced being turfed out of their home in Gretna have have offered to remove one of their static caravans in a bid to remain where they live.

George and Jenny Allan, a couple in their mid-70s, set up two static caravans/chalets on an unauthorised site near Raydale Park Stadium in 2019. They live in one, while their daughter Elizabeth and her six children stay in the other.

While they bought the land and two static caravans/chalets costing £60,000 each, the family did not have planning consent and Dumfries and Galloway Council hit the family with an enforcement order to leave.

However, it appears that a compromise may be reached as the Allan family have submitted a new planning application in a bid to remain on their land and finally put an end to the stressful situation.

And the matter is due to be discussed by councillors at the council’s planning committee next Wednesday.

A report due to be tabled at the meeting reads: “Planning permission is sought for the change of use of the land to form one gypsy/traveller pitch, involving the siting of one residential static caravan.

“The static caravan measures 12.2 metres long by 3.96 metres wide with a height to eaves and ridge of 2.68 metres and 3.32 metres respectively and a floor level approximately 0.5 metres above ground level.

“The site is already in use as a gypsy/traveller pitch with two static caravans currently sited and occupied but it is proposed to remove one of these caravans and re-position the other more centrally within the site and, therefore, the application is partially retrospective.”

Planning case officer Lindsey Cameron has recommended that this new application is approved subject to conditions – including that the second caravan is removed within one month, and that the boundary fence height is increased to two metres.

Scottish Water and the council’s road officer had no issues with the application, however four residents Milburn Drive and two in Loanwath Road have lodged objections.

They have raised the same concerns as before centring on an “adverse impact on residential amenity” as a result of overlooking/loss of privacy, and the closeness of the caravan to their properties.

The residents have complained about noise and disturbance, and insist that having the caravan in a different position wouldn’t make a difference to the situation.

Following their previous failed attempt for planning permission in 2021, the Allan family made an emotional plea to the council.

George said that he had two heart attacks the previous year and that the whole situation had negatively affected the health of him and his wife.

He said: “You don’t know how stressful all of this has been. My wife cried for two days over all this and has been extremely stressed.”

George says he has poured all his savings into buying the two chalets for his family and the land adjoining Steelville at Loanwath Road.

Elizabeth said: “Everybody is settled and we’ve built up friendships here. We don’t want all the upheaval in our kids’ lives.”

The council has two designated gypsy/traveller sites at Glenluce and Collin. However, there is currently no space – and Collin needs millions of pounds worth of investment to meet the Scottish Government’s minimum standards.

Annan and Eskdale

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