Sidmouth woman faces eviction after planning rethink

A woman has been made homeless after her dream of building a home in Sidmouth was snatched away from her by civic leaders.

Kelly Lynch was given the green light to build a small bungalow on her land on the Bowd in August, but the decision was reviewed after a ‘departure from policy’.

At Wednesday’s East Devon District Council (EDDC) planning committee meeting, councillors voted to reject the planning application – although there was no material change to the application.

Gypsy Kelly said: “One minute I’ve been given planning permission, the next it’s taken away – I just don’t understand why.”

She added: “I can’t get over the shock of it.”

Councillor Claire Wright, who has defended Kelly since learning of her case, said: “The decision has plunged a woman, who thought she had won a very long and very hard battle, back into despair.”

In August, the Herald reported Kelly’s successful fight against eviction from the land, which was hailed as a ‘victory for democracy’.

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She inherited the land – in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – from her grandmother, Violet Small, who was also a gypsy.

Kelly was granted permission to build a single-storey, 39-sqm “log cabin”, very similar to the property Violet was granted permission to build in 1986, but failed to do so within the required time.

At this week’s meeting, councillors voted again because the original decision was advertised as a ‘departure from policy’, and a letter of objection had been received, which Cllr Wright said ‘added nothing new’.

Kelly asked: “Since when has that ever happened before?”

Planning officers recommended they reapprove the application, but the councillors voted to reject it by eight votes to seven.

Kelly, a care worker in Sidmouth, is now unsure what the future holds for her and is looking at her options with her agent.

She will ‘more than likely’ appeal the decision, reigniting a battle that began when her grandmother owned the land.

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