Dismay has greeted the decision to allow permission for a mobile home on farm land in Barnham.
Members of Barnham Parish Council and local residents have criticised the decision to site a 12.5m by 4m caravan on a property in Church Lane.
Parish council chairman David Phillips said: “The parish council wishes to make clear it has no argument with the applicant and resident of this piece of land, in spite of the unorthodox method of getting permission.
“The major issue on this planning application is to do with the way Arun District Council’s planning officers handled the matter.
“What started out as a straightforward, albeit retrospective, application to have a mobile home on a piece of agricultural land has been turned into a much more significant gypsy and traveller site in the middle of a residential area.
“The applicant himself has stated he wishes to settle in Barnham and send his children to the local schools – he is no longer travelling – this is a permanent dwelling.
“Yet the planning officers have by a sleight of hand magically changed this into a full-blown gypsy and traveller site, with all the ramifications this status brings. Local residents have expressed the view this is not only blatant opportunism on the planners’ part to reduce its current shortfall of traveller sites, but also very deceitful.
“The usually high level of proof required to support such an application – long-term and permanent occupancy of the site – appears to have been set aside, with no serious questioning of what is at best weak and doubtful evidence.
“Barnham Parish Council and local residents wish to make it clear to Arun they are very critical both of the officers handling this case and of the elected members who went along with this charade and approved the application, despite the strongest representation from the parish council, local Arun ward councillors and local residents.
“This is a call for the district council’s planning officers return to the high standards of integrity, honesty and efficiency that we have come to expect of them, and for the elected councillors to wake up and start to do the responsible job they were elected to do.”
As previously reported, the application for the mobile home was approved by members of Arun’s development control committee earlier this month.