Monday 26 February 2024
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Nottingham

Council works at finding suitable land for gypsy and traveller site

A Nottinghamshire council is to discuss progress on finding more than 100 plots needed for the local gypsy and traveller population.

Last year, Newark and Sherwood District Council launched a public consultation, which reached 3,100 people, on which potential sites would be suitable.

The district has a long-standing connection with the travelling community, and the authority is legally required to set out plots.

Last year council documents published as part of a review stated there is a need for 118 plots between now and 2034. The authority will meet next week to discuss progress.

Cllr David Lloyd (Cons), leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “We are committed to ensuring that we plan for the future needs of our Gypsy and Traveller communities, with new site allocations being a part of our overall strategy over the coming years.

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“While finding land around the Newark area is difficult, we will not stop until our obligations are met and the publication of our ‘Amended Allocations and Development Management Development Plan Document’ in September this year will outline how we will meet that need.

In the past, there has been concerns some sites are flood risks.

Newark Town Council objected to plans to make Park View Caravan Park in Tolney Lane a permanent fixture in February 2022.

The site is a former abattoir. This was on the grounds that the application is in a high risk flood area which poses “a danger to life”.

The Environment Agency also said the site lies within a flood zone and has a high probability of flooding.

Planning permission was granted on a temporary three-year basis by councillors.

The Environment Agency also issued a “strong objection” to the plans for 13 pitches and amenity blocks at Shannon Falls in Tolney Lane in February.

The temporary site has been in existence since May 2021 and the amenity blocks have already been built, meaning the planning permission was retrospective.

Council officers recommended the application be refused, but councillors put forward a new plan for the permission to be extended on a temporary basis for three years.

It had been anticipated that the draft Amended Allocations and Development Management plan, known as a DPD, would be presented to the council’s cabinet this July.

The council said there had been delays relating to some of the potential sites and therefore its full publication will be in September.

The local authority had been considering three new potential sites for more pitches. These were:

  • Chestnut Lodge at Barnby: a private landowner has put forward some land which could provide 20 pitches.
  • Belvoir Ironworks: land available for sale to the district council which could provide 30 pitches.
  • Trent Lane, Newark: land available for sale to the district council which could provide 19 pitches.

Some of the setbacks include the Trent Lane site, which remains ‘potentially suitable’, however “its deliverability is questionable given landowner expectations”.

As these cannot be met, officers will no longer be proposing the site for allocation in the forthcoming draft plan.

In June, the council also submitted a bid to the Department for Levelling Up, Homes and Communities, Traveller Site Fund 2022/23.

The bid was for £1 million, the maximum amount of capital funding to create a new permanent site for gypsy and travellers on Bowbridge Lane.

The outcome of the application will be known by late summer. The plan is expected to be adopted in March 2024 – which is a delay of one month.

The pitch delivery strategy has been broken down into three categories.

  • Contribution from existing sites – current sites with existing additional capacity to contribute circa 85 pitches and sites with potential to accommodate need have been identified.
  • Allocating new sites in private ownership – two sites in locations around Newark offer the potential for additional pitch provision and proposed sites on Tolney Lane can be brought out of flood risk.
  • New sites facilitated by council action – purchase site or sites to deliver on our own or with partners and work with private sector operators to bring sites back into traveller use.

Cllr Lloyd added: “I want to make two things clear. Firstly our Gypsy and Traveller communities have been here for generations and they are integral to our community.

“Just like in all community groups and estates, law abiding residents are unfairly tarnished with the brush of a few. Gypsies and Travellers are, and will remain, an important and welcomed part of our district’s make-up.”

Speaking about a planning inspectorate decision that travellers on an unauthorised site off the A46 at Winthorpe need to leave within 12 months, he said: “I want to reiterate my messages to the Gypsy and Travellers living on the Winthorpe site.

“Despite the ruling by the Planning Inspectorate, we will not be enforcing the requirements of the notice until such a time as we have concluded the proposed work on meeting our future gypsy and traveller needs and therefore you are not required to move from this site now.”

Councillors at Newark and Sherwood District Council will discuss the progress report at a cabinet meeting on July 12.

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