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Last Updated: Monday, 20 December, 2004, 11:51 GMT
Gypsy family win planning appeal
Henry and Paula Stanford
Henry and Paula Stanford want to turn their caravans into a museum
A family of Gypsies have won their fight to stay in their converted barn in Cranbrook, Kent.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council had refused permission, saying the land was only for agricultural use.

It said the barn was not an authorised conversion and the site was within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The local community campaigned to stop Henry and Paul Stanford being evicted and the couple won their appeal. They now want to create a Romany museum.

Museum planned

Mr Stanford told BBC Radio Kent that they bought the barn at Three Oaks Nursery and moved in, only to find it had been converted into a family home.

They applied for planning permission for the conversion retrospectively, which was then turned down.

"We found the barn and discovered it had been converted five years before we bought the place," he said.

"The local community has been on our side all the way through, which has been wonderful.

"People around here haven't had anything to do with Gypsies.

"There has been a stigma. Ever since Gypsies have been about, there has been that suspicion."

He added: "We are very pleased.

"This is something we were waiting and hoping for and wanted to happen."

The Stanfords now plan to seek permission for a museum based around several horse-drawn caravans, to expand their education work.

They already take the caravans into schools, colleges, museums and libraries and are hoping teachers will bring classes of children to visit their museum.



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