A GYPSY and Traveller site will be allowed to remain where it is despite doubts that it could get bigger. 

The site, off the Bath Road near Woolhampton, has been occupied since the end of last year. The two families who live there applied for planning permission only after moving there.

Despite local opposition, the families are now allowed to remain on the site, as West Berkshire Council’s planning committee voted on August 28 to grant permission. 

Councillor Jack Lovell, from Woolhampton parish, told the committee: “We are strongly opposed to this application. We all understand that special rules apply for Gypsies and Travellers.

“However, that doesn’t extend to flouting the law.”

Cllr Lovell said people in Woolhampton were concerned more people could move onto the site and it could get much bigger, again without getting permission first. 

The site currently consists of two day rooms, two mobile homes, and two touring caravans. It received 36 objections from local residents. 

Cllr Graham Pask (Con, Bucklebury) said: “I understand the rights of Gypsies and Travellers to occupy land legally and legitimately, and I realise the need for a [council] to provide sites and if we don’t then it causes problems such as this.

“There are many positives in terms of location, good highway access, bus route. These families have been paying council tax from the end of last year. They seem to be good neighbours and good citizens.”

Several conditions were placed on the application, for example it must not get bigger. However, there were concerns those conditions would not be followed. 

Cllr Ross MacKinnon (Con, Bradfield) said: “There’s a strong reliance on the conditions of this application. The rules weren’t good enough to be followed before; I would understand why people would have doubts that the rules won’t be followed in the future.” 

Brian Woods, representing the application, said the two families would follow the conditions.

Six councillors voted for giving permission and three voted against.