A COUNCILLOR has slammed recommendations to grant planning to a gypsy encampment on green belt land.

There's already a single caravan on Grange Farm, Royston, but it's only permitted to be used for storage.

Cllr Tim Cheetham said: "It isn't a matter of whether it's a gypsy site or not - it's simply an inappropriate site for residential development of any kind.

"It's green belt land and it's just a scandal, plain and simple. It's been handled monumentally badly by the planning department.

"There's been dozens of letters of objection, and a petition signed by nearly 200 people.

"All three ward councillors are against it."

Cllr Cheetham said he had made enquiries throughout the planning process, and had been told by council officials in the planning department it was a 'bad application' and unlikely to progress.

The application went before the council's planning committee on Tuesday to vote on an application to grant permission for residential status.

However, that decision has been deferred until a site visit takes place.

A council spokesman said planners initially believed the applicant didn't meet the definition of 'traveller' and therefore didn't meet criteria for development on green belt land.

He said: "After consulting the education department and the council’s gypsy and traveller liaison officer, officers now consider there's sufficient evidence of a nomadic lifestyle."

If granted, permission will be for three years and then be reviewed.