MORE than 240 objections have been submitted calling for a halt to a plan to create a gypsy caravan site on the edge of Hagley.

A planning application has been submitted to Bromsgrove District Council to change the use of part of a pony paddock off Wassell Grove Lane into a small gypsy and traveller caravan site comprising two pitches.

Each pitch would have a mobile home, day room and space for a touring caravan along with two car parking spaces, a design and access statement submitted to the council's planning website shows.

The application, which can be viewed online here, has been made on behalf of a family of travellers who "have an ongoing nomadic habit of life currently travelling between sites around the Midlands and occasionally abroad for work".

Accommodation is needed, documents state, "in the interests of the children, personal circumstances and unmet need as the council cannot demonstrate an up-to-date five-year supply of deliverable sites for travellers".

Linked by a footpath to Oakfield Road, Wollescote, the site sits within the green belt but the application calls for the plan to be approved due to the "special needs of the family and the shortage of supply of council pitches".

The design and access statement says the paddock is owned by the family and it adds: "The applicant's land is located within open countryside and outside any village settlement boundary. However, it is adjacent to a cluster of commercial and residential buildings namely Wassell Grove Business Centre, housing, stabling and paddocks."

It says the family "are all travellers by birth, culture and descent" and they have "an aversion to living in houses and wish to live on a lawful caravan pitch" and it adds: "The application is submitted because there is a desperate need to have a stable base to support the family. It is important they have a permanent registered address to settle with their families, in particular for schooling, doctors, hospitals and the amenities you need for settled living standards. They need the opportunity of a better life. The family will still travel to horse fairs, conventions, visiting family and for work."

It goes on to say "it is widely acknowledged that in the UK gypsies and travellers have some of the worst outcomes in society in the terms of health, education and social care" and adds: "Approving the planning application would provide a permanent settled site, thereby delivering the children the best opportunity of a secure and stable family life, safe play and access to education, health and other services.

"Refusing the application would result in a return to fragmented and unpredictable living conditions and would very likely be deleterious to the health and social outcomes for the family group as a whole, and particularly so to the future educational outcomes of the children."

A spokesman for Bromsgrove District Council confirmed there are no council-owned pitches in the district for travellers - although Houndsfield Lane mobile home site in Wythall, managed by Rooftop Housing, is a facility solely for the travelling community.

The applicant's design and access statement says the "proposal will have no adverse effect on the heritage assets of Wassell Grove Farmhouse" and "although there would be some obvious loss of openness it would have a limited adverse impact on the purpose of the green belt".

More than 240 people, however, have lodged objections to the plan - saying it would spoil the countryside. You can have your say by clicking here.

Joanne Withers of Hagley said: "I can't think of a worse place to put this. Right in the middle of a beautiful piece of green belt, close to a boarding kennels, rugby club and golf club."

Sonia Evans of Pedmore said: "We would rather see a pony paddock than a caravan. We do not want any of the fields becoming commercialised. This will just be the start of a growing commercialisation of the area."

Martin Mills of Stourbridge said: "We need to maintain what green belt lands we have left. There is enough disused and vacant domestic and commercial land to put this development on."

Carolyn Williams of Hagley, said: "I object very strongly. This area has been plagued by gypsy/travellers for many years."

She said nearby Old Halesonians Rugby Football Club was invaded by travellers in July.

The club was left counting the cost after 10 to 15 caravans were driven onto the site - eventually moving on when bailiffs were called in.

Mrs Williams added: "Wassell Grove Lane is very narrow and winding, and should have the least possible access roads off it. Four cars, two trucks and a horsebox seem a lot of extra transport using the lane."

People have until Monday October 5 to comment on the plan.