A CONTROVERSIAL Traveller site in Mobberley would 'significantly change' the tranquility of the countryside location, a public inquiry has heard.

The land off Broadoak Lane has been mired in legal wranglings since Michael Maloney, who owns the land, moved his family on to the site in August 2020 after their own home had been subjected to an arson attack.

After applying for retrospective planning permission, to erect three pitches on the site, Cheshire East Council rejected that in December of the same year.

Mr Maloney was subsequently handed a suspended prison sentence for ignoring an injunction barring him from developing the land, which also resulted in the number of caravans on the site being reduced from 13 to 8.

At a public inquiry being held this week, Mr Maloney has been appealing the decision to refuse that application, with the family revealing they have nowhere else to go.

The three-day hearing came to a conclusion on Thursday, March 3, with inspector Roy Merrett visiting the site to conduct a formal visit as part of the proceedings.

As the inquiry was brought to a close, further evidence was provided by Cheshire East planning officer Paul Wakefield.

He said how the site was part of the greenbelt land that seperates Knutsford and Mobberley, with both places considered 'urban sprawling areas'.

He said: "There is a significant contribution to greenbelt.

"The overall strategy of the landscape is for sustainable recreational use.

"The nature of the change is one from an open field, largely undeveloped, to one of a substantial area of hard standing ground, comprising caravans and commercial vehicles, all of which contrasts with the tranquillity of the area.

"It’s a significant change."

He added how further development of the site would 'create a significant area of harm'.

"The structures on it create a significant impact on the visual impact on openness," he said.

"It is a prominent site.

"There is substantial harm to the openness of the greenbelt.

"I accept it doesn’t close the gap in its entirety between Mobberley and Knutsford but does significantly narrow it."

In a closing summary, Matthew Henderson, a lawyer representing the council, said the impact of aircraft noise was also a 'resounding factor'

He said: "Noise exposure causes an annoyance and sleep disturbance.

"The link between aircraft noise can cause an impact on health.

"The impacts would not be able to be identified by an untrained person.

"By the time the effects become apparent it will be too late.

"The council does not accept refusal would result in harm to the children as they wouldn’t have to leave the site immediately.

"No such factor which would allow a temporary permission.

"For these reasons the council ask you to dismiss these appeals."

Alison Heine, representing the family at the proceedings, provided her own closing speech and explained how difficult it was for Gipsy/Traveller families to find a permanent place to live.

She said: "In the past, the Irish centre in Liverpool described the process of Gipsy/Traveller families trying to find land in the North West as like a feeding frenzy at the duck pond.

"That has not changed even today.

"Given its location, it would be difficult to claim this site represented an unobstructed urban sprawl.

"While the council refer to the impact of noise on health, this is not the experience of the Maloney family to date.

"Faced with the prospect of being homeless and having nowhere else to go, aircraft noise is the least of their problems.

"It was accepted when the application was made that there would be some impact the greenbelt.

"Most Traveller sites are in the countryside.

"No Gipsy site is allocated in any urban area or part of any housing assessment.

"I acknowledge the concerns of local people, but I ask the inspector to consider the needs of the family.

"Travellers are a proud and personal people.

"It was very brave of Mrs Maloney to speak and divulge so much personal information at this inquiry.

"Whatever you may think of aircraft noise, Mr and Mrs Maloney wouldn’t be living on this site if they thought it was harmful to their family."

The inspector will now consider all the evidence provided before making his decision, which could take up to three months.