Potton Traveller site set for dramatic expansion

Potton Traveller Site
Potton Traveller Site

A town’s Traveller site could double in size.

Central Beds Council’s sustainable communities overview and scrutiny committee met on Tuesday to discuss the draft Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan.

Councillors debated the number of pitches that would be required as well as talking about specific sites.

The meeting was well attended but, unlike the previous meeting about Traveller sites, there were spare seats.

Councillors announced that they would scrap plans for Site 58, which would have been by Potton and Gamlingay Heath, instead planning to add another 13 pitches to the existing site in Common Road, Potton.

This will not be included in the plan, instead being listed as a windfall application.

Councillor Nigel Young, who is leading the discussions about the local plan, said: “We are expecting an application to expand the Potton site. We would expect the total expansion of the existing site to provide us with 13 pitches.”

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Doreen Gurney, who represents the Potton ward, said she is pleased that Site 58 has been dropped as it is “unfit for purpose” but she is concerned about the expansion of the existing site.

She said: “I go to the site virtually every week. The Gypsies and Travellers don’t want another site and they are fearful of having an extended site with other families. All they want is a small extension for their present family.”

They are worried about racial tensions if other families move into the site or the immediate area, Mrs Gurney said. She continued: “Equally it’s a concern for the residents of Potton and the surrounding area and we shall continue to fight it.”

She added it is not right to call the extension a windfall site, which eliminates the need for it to be included in the plan consultation, when it is being discussed as part of the plan.

Mr Young praised her work liaising with the community at the existing Potton site.

Councillors also chose that Site 26 in Dunton Lane, Biggleswade would replace Site 55 due to concern about the archaeological value of the land at Site 55.

Adam Zerny, the other ward councillor for Potton, said: “I welcome the decision to drop Site 58 but was disappointed to see the committee propose an extension to the existing site in Potton and a new site in Dunton.

“The committee did not debate the matters and it appeared as if they’d all made up their minds before they even walked into the room.”

As agreed by councillors last year, the plan will also include 10 pitches at Site 76, land south of Fairfield and west of Stotfold Road,

In total 66 pitches have been allocated across the county. The remaining number, which will equate to approximately five or six a year, will be fulfilled using windfall sites, Mr Young said.

If more than enough windfall pitches are approved the number of pitches required at the sites listed in the plan may be reduced.

The plan will be discussed by the executive committee on Tuesday (January 21).