Road safety versus ‘human rights;’ a planning inspector has decreed the safety of villagers and drivers outweighs a travelling family’s rights to keep caravans and homes near a major A-road junction.
Albert Moore’s appeal against enforcement notices issued by Wealden District Council in 2010 was refused after inspector Richard Clegg visited the site at Swansbrook Lane, Horam last October. He announced his decision on March 6.
Mr Moore’s family had lived onthe site since 2007 and, after an appeal to Wealden, the enforcement period was extended. Mr Moore had applied to keep two residential caravans and mobile homes, two touring caravans, storage sheds, an aviary and raised planting beds.
Documents accompanying the planning report say Mr Moore and his son are horse dealers and gardeners. One pitch is occupied by Mr Moore and his wife; the second by their son Albert John and his wife Jodie, the couple’s adult daughter Cheyeanne and their 17-year-old son Albert John. The family owns neighbouring fields for grazing horses and a hay crop. He said if the pitches were not there, visits must be made to attend to the horses, increasing vehicle movements. His highway consultant said warning signs, white lines and a mirror would make the junction safer, but County’s highway chiefs oppose mirrors saying they distort, crack and frost. Signs would have to be approved by the traffic and safety team.
Mr Clegg said main issues are the impact of the proposal on road safety at the junction of Swansbrook Lane and the A267 - a main route from the M15 and Tunbridge Wells southwards to the coast - and whether any harm would be outweighed by other considerations. A local councillor said it was also used by HGVs travelling to Newhaven and a survey showed weekday traffic flows between 10,500 and 11,300 vehicles each weekday with average speeds of 61-63mph.
These figures were disputed by Mr Moore’s team but the Inspector said the council’s survey is ‘more likely to accurately represent vehicle speeds.’ Local residents have referred to several accidents along this road.
County councillor Chris Dowling said: “I am pleased the Inspector noted the importance of highway safety on this busy road on which several vehicle and injury accidents have been recorded.” Mr Clegg concluded: “Dismissal of the appeal is necessary and proportionate and it would not result in a violation of the human rights of the appellant and his family.”