RESIDENTS who fought against a fairground family’s plans to set up a base in Stretton have been left crushed as the scheme was approved.

Initially councillors on Warrington Borough Council’s planning committee turned down the scheme on the grounds of the effect on the green belt land.

But on review the government decided to approve the plans on the basis of an inspector’s report following an inquiry for the former Roots and Shoots site on Hall Lane.

The decision was recalled to the Department for Communities and Local Government because it involved a traveller site on green belt.

Clr Paul Kennedy (CON - Hatton, Stretton and Walton) said: “Villagers are devastated, I have been inundated with residents calling and texting saying it was not the decision that they wanted and was bad news for the village.”

Residents had come together to raise £6,000 for the services of a planning consultant to speak against the plans when the scheme was first heard in January 2012.

The application came from two families who had bought the land for £300,000 who owned fixed arcades in North Wales and the north west.

The scheme was to allow them to store caravans and fairground equipment along with a new access point to the land.

But residents were concerned about what future applications could come forward on the site and that the scheme did not meet the special circumstances needed for green belt development.

Part of the approval rested on the current lack of provision for the traveller community in Warrington.

When the planning application was originally put before the council the applicants told councillors there were no alternative sites and the council had a responsibility to provide 10 sites by 2016.

In the appeal the planning inspector also said the families who would be based on the site did not have the security of keeping their current Hyde base, although there was no immediate threat of being made homeless.

The report from Eric Pickles office granting the application said: “In addition to the unmet need for accommodation for travelling showpeople generally, the personal needs of the appellants’ families and the lack of available alternative sites provide support for the appeal proposal.

“Taken together, the Secretary of State concludes that these considerations clearly outweigh the identified harm. Overall, the secretary of state concludes that very special circumstances exist which justify the proposal for use of the land as quarters for travelling showpeople.”