Rejected sites for Travellers back on table

Protestors last year
Protestors last year

Nearly 100 more Gypsy and Traveller pitches could be identified at a meeting next week.

Central Beds Council’s Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan will be brought back to the table on Tuesday (January 14).

Last February councillors selected the location for potential sites which would fulfil the council’s housing obligations for the next decade.

There were 66 pitches, including those near Potton, Biggleswade and Arlesey, and four pitches for Travelling Showpeople. But now the council has announced that it will allocate pitches until 2031. There will need to be another 99 Traveller pitches and an extra 21 Travelling Showpeople pitches.

And it looks as though the potential sites will be chosen from the list of sites that reached the third round of the selection process last year.

The agenda report by Councillor Nigel Young, executive member for sustainable communities - strategic planning and economic development, states: “Option one is that the committee reconsiders all sites at stage three of the site assessment and allocates sufficient pitches to meet the need up to 2031.

“This can be achieved either through the allocation of additional sites or by adding additional pitches to the existing allocations.

“Officers consider this the most risk adverse option.”

Option two is that the council approves pitches as they arrive in the future. These, known as windfall sites, would be pitches that were created on a new site or added to an existing site without planning permission but with permission subsequently being given.

Following the public consultation there are suggested changes to certain sites in this area.

The council previously proposed that Site 55, land south of Dunton Lane, Biggleswade be developed as a Gypsy and Traveller site.

However, there were objections by both the council’s archaeologists and local residents because it is within the setting of Stratton Moat and associated earthworks.

Councillors will now consider replacing Site 55 with Site 26, land south of Dunton Lane and west of Dunton.

Site 58, land east of Potton Road, Potton could also be replaced. This is the site on the county border with Gamlingay Heath.

Instead the existing site in Common Road, Potton, which currently has 14 pitches, could be extended.

An appendix on the agenda states: “The council acknowledges that some members of the settled community and the Gypsy and Traveller Community would prefer an extension to the existing site rather than the development of a new site.”

Councillors will consider removing Site 58 from plan and instead allocating more pitches to the existing site as a “windfall site.”

The sustainable communities overview and scrutiny committee meets at 2pm on Tuesday at Chicksands.