Friends and neighbours of a couple who have submitted plans for a permanent travellers’ site next to the home of actor Martin Clunes have written to the local authority to give their support to the “valued members of the community”.
The Doc Martin star and other villagers close to his home in Beaminster, Dorset, are objecting to the plans by Theo Langton and Ruth McGill.
The couple, who have lived in a 45ft by 16ft mobile home on land they own at Meerhay for 25 years, have applied for planning permission to continue living there permanently.
Men Behaving Badly star Clunes, 61, and his wife Philippa have lodged an objection to the plans along with several neighbours.
They also object to the lack of amenities on the site such as electricity, water and sewage.
Planning officers at Dorset Council have recommended to the area planning committee to grant approval but the case was pulled from the agenda last month after a last-minute letter from Clunes’ lawyers.
In a letter of support for Mr Langton, Ros Kayes, a town councillor, wrote: “He is a gentle, deep thinking and inspiring climate activist who is passionate about community resilience to global warming – a subject about which he has considerable expertise.
“Theo is very community minded, having served as a Beaminster town councillor, and is respected and well loved in the local community.”
Paula Tuff, director of community group the Prout Bridge Project, wrote: “They have been valued members of our community for years and have been pro-environmentally active.
“Their children have attended our youth club and it saddens us greatly that at times of hardship anyone would consider making a family homeless or question their right to have family members visit their home.”
“I wholeheartedly support their application, as I think they and their children are an asset to Beaminster.”
Letters of opposition to the plan have also been received, with Anna Hazlehurst writing: “This area of Beaminster is AONB, as such a travellers’ site should not be permitted.
“The lanes are narrow, the hedges high and any large vehicles are a danger to the many walkers and riders we have in the area.
“The spring water currently supplying the family is inadequate for any more people, additionally the spring is located on someone else’s land.
“There is no management of sewage, but with several streams running down through Beaminster and on to Bridport I feel there is a serious risk of water contamination.”
The letter submitted to the council by Clunes’ solicitors, Kitson Trotman, said the applicants do not fit within the definition of “travellers” and approving the plans for the permanent site would set a “harmful precedent”.
Planning officers at the council have previously recommended the plans are approved, saying: “Given the ongoing policy and research background of lack of available site options, coupled with the minimal visual impact on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it is considered that the use of this site as a permanent base for this traveller family is acceptable.
“It is considered that the scheme is also acceptable in residential amenity terms. The development would also be acceptable in terms of highway safety issues.”
A date has not been published for the case to be considered again by the planning committee.