A TRAVELLERS' site between the M5 and the site of Somerset’s new ‘gigafactory’ will be allowed to remain in place following a vote by local councillors.

Mr and Mrs O’Hara applied for retrospective planning permission to create three travellers’ pitches on Batch Road in Puriton, a short distance to the north of junction 23 of the motorway and less than a mile from the Gravity enterprise zone.

The couple have carried out work on the site since 2019, and applied for permission for each pitch to have a day room and space for a touring caravan.

Somerset Council’s planning committee north voted to allow the site to remain in place and be completed when it met in Bridgwater on June 11, arguing it would help to make up a shortfall of pitches across the former Sedgemoor area.

The Environment Agency (EA) formally objected to the proposals since the land lies within flood zone 3a on their official maps – meaning it is among the most likely to be flooded.

Two additional travellers’ site have been approved within a short distance of the Gravity site within the last nine months – with four pitches being approved on Cossington Lane near Woolavington in December 2023 and a further two pitches being given the green light on the A39 Puriton Hill in May.

Councillor Alastair Hendry (who represents the neighbouring Highbridge and Burnham South division) said: “These people should be commended on the layout of the site. They really have gone to some trouble to do this.

“Given there is actually only three units there, we’re not talking about an extra 15 to 16 children going to local schools.”

Councillor Gill Slocombe (Bridgwater West) added: “The need for travellers’ pitches is great – no-one needs to disagree with that.

“I personally feel we need to have somewhere safe for our gypsy and traveller families, and somewhere where it’s not too impinging on other residents living nearby.”

The committee voted unanimously to approve the plans after around half an hour’s debate.

A full strategy for delivering new travellers’ accommodation, both temporary and permanent, is expected to come before the council’s executive committee before the end of the year.