PLANS to allow gypsies and travellers to use a field near Sedbergh as a temporary site for Appleby Horse Fair go before planners next week.

Scroggs Bank Field, nearly a mile out of town on the A683 Cautley Road, is wanted for up to 100 caravans over the next five years.

But that use would be restricted to a maximum of 21 days a year, between May 10 and June 30, to coincide with the annual four-day horse gathering.

The 1.4-hectare site, off Buckbank Lane, has been temporarily used for the last five years but permission to do so expired last year.

Yorkshire Dales National Park planners are now being asked to decide on the fresh application at a meeting in Bainbridge next Tuesday (May 14).

Officials have recommended it be allowed, but it has drawn objections.

Residents have said they live “under siege” when the field is occupied.

A planning officer’s report said a “number of incidents” occurred in 2018.

“These included the attempted theft of lambs, grazing of horses on the owners’ best hay meadows and the use of their access and hedgerows as latrines,” the report said.

Sedbergh Parish Council objected at first but agreed to support providing a management plan was made part of any planning conditions.

Two letters of support were submitted from gypsy and traveller representatives on the Multi-Agency Strategic Co-ordinating Group (MASCG).

Its members include Eden District Council and South Lakeland District Council.

It said the provision of a field had led to “significant improvements in road safety, littering, sanitation, animal welfare”  and a “significant reduction in anti-social behaviour”.

“A refusal would undo a great deal of the effort and good work which has been undertaken by the local community and the local authority and which has produced the generally positive and inclusive atmosphere,” said the letter in support.

YDNPA planning officer Michelle Clowes said the field provided somewhere for gypsies and travellers to stop off on their way to and from the fair.

“Gypsies and travellers will be coming to Sedbergh en–route to Appleby, whether or not a dedicated site is provided,” said her report.

“The benefit of a dedicated site is that it can be more closely supervised, including a twice-daily visit from SLDC staff and police.”

An official site also prevented unauthorised encampments on private land and helped relieve pressure on the roadside verges and laybys, it said.

“It also helps to alleviate any potential conflict that may arise between the settled community and the gypsies and travellers.”