A Romany Gypsy family which illegally set up home in open countryside after suffering antisocial behaviour on a council-run traveller site should be allowed to continue living there, planning officers have recommended, to give their 11 children greater stability.

North Yorkshire Council’s Thirsk and Malton constituency planning committee will on Thursday (March 21) consider Oathie Sykes’ application for a change of use of land to a traveller site at Cornborough Road, near Sheriff Hutton, following scores of residents voicing vehement opposition to the proposal.

In an unusual move, council officers said they some comments lodged over the planning application by residents of the village north-east of York had been redacted as they had “considered to be inappropriate”.

Planning documents submitted to the authority state there are already numerous unauthorised caravans on the farmland and seek consent for four Gypsy pitches laid in a square, each featuring a static caravan, space for the siting of a touring caravan and two car parking spaces.

The family is also seeking consent for a 15m by 8m amenity block, to include a day room and communal kitchen and dining facilities, a bathroom and shower rooms and a laundry room.


The planning application states the family have since found it “intolerable” to continue living on the council’s Tara Park site in Malton due to antisocial behaviour of neighbouring residents.

The application adds: “There is apparently no control of fly-tipping, raves, loud music playing, rat infestation and intolerable mixed tenants with threats of violence and total disregard of the Covid-19 regulations.

“Consequently, there was a desperate need to find elsewhere to live. In

the absence of any adequate family sites available within the district, Mrs Sykes with her children has had no option but to temporarily move to the caravan to be with her husband…

“Under the current circumstances the family need to be together so that Mrs Sykes and her family can manage the dog breeding business including the welfare and security of the young puppies while Mr Sykes would continue to travel for work.”

The papers state the family’s 11 children all need healthcare and stability in schooling and that it has found difficulty in registering with doctors

due to the lack of a permanent address.

However, the proposal has generated a raft of objections, including from  Sheriff Hutton Parish Council, which has claimed the proposal would be “inappropriate development of the open countryside”.

A parish council spokesman wrote: “There is sufficient capacity at Tara Park, which remains over 50 per cent empty.”


Other objectors have said if North Yorkshire Council approves the proposal it would demonstrate it is “pointless going through the correct channels” and people “may just as well ignore the council and build regardless”.

One resident wrote: “As a resident of Sheriff Hutton, I would hate to see this pretty historic village be downgraded by a wrongly sited out-of-character development.”

Another objector added: “The local school in particular would struggle to provide appropriate support for the children of the travellers, given that it is very small and with limited resources and funding.”


In a report to the planning committee, officers said the proposal would “not result in unacceptable harm to the residential amenity of neighbouring residents or have an adverse impact on surrounding neighbouring land uses”.

The report adds the identified long-term need for additional pitch provision, limited alternative provision and the personal circumstances of the applicant and his family, including the best interests of children, outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the landscape.

It concludes: “On the basis that the personal circumstances of the applicant and his family have weighed significantly in the consideration of the application, a personal condition restricting occupancy of the site to the applicant and immediate family members is recommended.”