TV star Martin Clunes has suffered a setback in his planning battle against plans to build a permanent traveller site next to his farm in Dorset.
The Doc Martin and Men Behaving Badly actor, 61, and other villagers have opposed the plans for the controversial development near the town of Beaminster.
But Dorset Council has recommended the site is allowed to go ahead, with the planning committee due to vote soon on whether or not to grant it planning permission.
Couple live in caravan on land without permission
Martin Clunes's neighbours Theo Langton, 52, and Ruth McGill have lived in an unauthorised mobile home on their land for more than two decades. Locals have called their settlement "harmful" to the "character and beauty" of the area.
The couple, who have two children aged 16 and 18, are believed to have originally moved into the site in Meerhay in 1997. Mr Langdon's mother Georgia — a successfully garden designer — is said to have sold her son the land in 2019 for £128,315. Prior to this she sold Mr Clunes his mansion and 130-acres of farmland for £3 million.
The couple, who have been dubbed "hippies" by locals, run their own business from the site too, which is called Masque The Rage and specialises in making artistic tailored metalwork clothing items such as hats, masks and wings.
In 2015 the local council granted Langton and McGill a five-year temporary licence to live on the site, but this expired in 2020, reports MailOnline.
Couple have now applied to legalise settlement
The couple applied to legalise the settlement and turn it into a permanent private residential traveller site. If successful, the application will make a caravan and 45ft by 16ft mobile home on slabs already on the site legal and would also allow them to add two more caravans for visitors.
Explaining his reasoning for the site, Mr Langdon told the Dorset Echo: "On one level we are all being told to live in an environmentally low-impact way, but if the council move us they are pushing our carbon footprint up."
Beaminster Town Council had originally said the land was "unsuitable" for a travellers encampment, but it has now emerged that planning officials at Dorset Council are backing the application.
Giving his support for Mr Langdon's proposal in a report, council officer Bob Burden said there was a lack of sites in Dorset for "gypsies, travellers and travelling show people" and therefore it should go ahead, insisting it would not harm the beauty of the area.
"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."
Clunes calls site 'wholly unsuitable'
Mr Clunes and his wife Philippa and some of their neighbours lodged an objection to the plans and claimed the proposals would impact the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Their planning agent, Will Cobley, said: “Our clients have lived at their property for many years and are concerned by the proposal, which seeks to authorise and intensify a nearby traveller use on a permanent basis.”
Mr Cobley added the couple believe that the area is a 'wholly unsuitable' location for a traveller site and highlighted the lack of basic services like electricity, water, and sewage.
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Sam is based in Coventry and has been a news reporter for nearly 20 years. His work has featured in the Mirror, The Sun, MailOnline, the Independent, and news outlets throughout the world. As a copywriter, he has written for clients as diverse as Saint-Gobain, Michelin, Halfords Autocentre, Great British Heating, and Irwin Industrial Tools. During the pandemic, he converted a van into a mini-camper and is currently planning to convert his shed into an office and Star Wars shrine.