More Gypsy and Traveller pitches may be needed.
Central Beds Council has “underestimated” the need for Gypsy and Traveller pitches by around 20 pitches, according to an inspector .
The council’s draft Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan has been delayed after a site in the south of the county was refused permission by Central Beds Council but approved by the Secretary of State on appeal.
In his report, James Ellis, inspector for the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said it is likely that more pictures will be needed than listed in the plan.
And Central Beds Council is now taking extra time to re-evaluate the Gypsy and Traveller plan in light of this assessment.
Mr Ellis wrote: “I note that the Gypsy, Traveller and Showperson Accommodation Assessment Update (GTAA) has used a compound growth figure of 2.5 per cent whereas, in my experience, it is generally accepted practice to use a rate of three per cent.
“Even if the figures in the GTAA are assumed to be correct (which I consider not to be the case), there is evidence that the identified need will not be met within the envisaged period.”
Central Beds Council plans to allocate 44 pitches by 2018 and a further 22 by 2023, totalling 66. But 65 are needed by 2018 and 86 by 2023, Mr Ellis said, leaving a shortfall.
It is likely that the Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan “will not meet the real need,” he added.
Councillor Nigel Young, executive member for sustainable communities (strategic planning and economic development), said: “It’s important for us to carefully consider the comments raised in the decision regarding [Leighton Buzzard], although we question some of the conclusions reached.
“We are in the process of revisiting the assessment of need for the area to strengthen our current plan and once that is done we’ll have a clearer idea of whether any alterations are necessary to the plan and, in the event, what those alterations might be.
“We will of course make sure that if there are changes people have the opportunity to comment on them.”
The draft plan was due to be published late last month. It is now expected to be published in the new year.