Controversial plans for a £4m upgrade to the traveller caravan site linked to the death of PC Andrew Harper are likely to be approved by West Berkshire Council this week.

Officials say they fully recognised the tragic events surrounding the death of PC Harper in 2019, saying that the council had the deepest sympathy with all those affected by the tragedy.

While nearly 50 objections had been raised on the application as a result of the tragedy the council says the purpose was to only consider the planning merits of the application.

PC Andrew Harper died after being dragged along the road by a stolen quad bike.

Two of the thieves were arrested at the Four Houses Corner site in Ufton Nervet, which was shut in 2020 due to its dilapidated state.

READ MORE: Decision on controversial plan to upgrade Traveller site linked to PC Andrew Harper death delayed 

The officer became entangled in a tow rope attached to the thieves’ Seat Toledo and was dragged at “breakneck” speed for more than a mile along country lanes.

Henry Long, who was driving the car towing the stolen quad bike, was jailed for 16 years, while his accomplices Albert Bowers and Jessie Cole, were each given 13 years.

Reading Chronicle: Henry Long (right), Albert Bowers (bottom left) and Jessie Cole (top left). Credit: Thames Valley PoliceHenry Long (right), Albert Bowers (bottom left) and Jessie Cole (top left). Credit: Thames Valley Police

Most of the objections centre around the insult to PC Harper’s memory, with resident John Potts saying: “An absolutely diabolical plan bearing in mind what happened a couple of years back.

“I would love to get inside the mind of the moron who thinks this is a good idea.”

Fellow resident Tony Lewis said: “A ludicrous expenditure at times of poverty in the country.”

“The travellers are not short of a few quid themselves, if they wanted a washroom they would have built it already.

“If they want it they pay for it, much like I do.

“If I want an extension to my house I don’t see the council offering to pay for it.”

Many question the logic of expanding the site to 17 double pitches.

Jason Chamberlain said: “Making it even larger where the bad apples can infect others is despicable and shows the council has no respect for normal citizens.”

“How many people are you prepared to see killed, intimidated or robbed?

“A better use of this site would be a car park giving access to the local woods, maybe a memorial to PC Harper with the existing 18 pitches spread around other sites where hopefully established communities of decent travellers may restrain the behaviour of the ones detailed in the police report.”

But some support the application. Alesa Jane Bennett said: “I support this application as the community has been scattered all the way around Burghfield and Mortimer.

“I think that this site needs to be open as soon as possible as they have been waiting for so many years now in temporary accommodation and wasting the council’s money by keeping them in the houses.

“All they want is to be back as a close community, and as for PC Harper his death did not happen on the site, so maybe they should close the road where he did die in his memory.”

Reading Chronicle: The Four Houses Corner Caravan Site in Reading Road, Ufton Nervet. Credit: Google MapsThe Four Houses Corner Caravan Site in Reading Road, Ufton Nervet. Credit: Google Maps

The council has to maintain a five-year supply of caravan pitches for travellers and this site would contribute to the legally required number of pitches.

If the council does not meet the required plots, it could be forced to accept a planning application for a less favourable site.

PC Harper’s mother, Deborah Adlam, addressed the previous meeting of West Berkshire Council’s eastern area planning committee, saying that the community was haunted by the events surrounding PC Harper’s death and his memory should be protected.

She said the residents should know who would be staying at the site and that the site was supposed to be just women and children, and this was not the case.

She added there was a history of damaged property and misbehaviour at the site and that there were concerns over the safety of police officers who would have to police the site.

The site at Four Corners has been established for 14 years, but was considered run-down and no longer fit for purpose in 2016.

The eastern area planning committee sits on Wednesday, March 6.