Sunday 19 May 2024
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Plans for new Gypsy and Travellers sites in Nottinghamshire delayed

A review into creating more dedicated Gypsy and Travellers sites across Mansfield has been delayed until 2026.

Mansfield District Council began work on creating new sites for the travelling community in 2019 and consulted on 15 potential locations for four final sites.

However, the Labour-run authority now says its project “has not concluded to date” and will not be completed as an individual project.

It will instead be included in a root-and-branch review of the council’s local housing plan, which was adopted by the authority in 2020.

Councils must regularly update their local plans to factor in changes in local areas and policies and the next review is due between 2024 and 2026.

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Each of the four sites would have been split into a 15-pitch transit site for caravans, a three-pitch permanent stay site, and two sites for travelling showpeople.

The plans came as part of a Government policy asking councils to identify potential sites due to a national and local shortage of pitches.

The authority expects to publish updated plans for traveller sites next summer but says the reviewed housing plan will not be adopted for three years.

At a meeting of the full council on Tuesday (March 7), Cllr Stuart Richardson (Lab), portfolio holder for regeneration and growth, provided the update.

He said: “The issue will be considered afresh as part of the review of the local plan and not via a standalone document. [This earlier work] will cease altogether.

“As part of the process to review the local plan, the council will determine what current need there is with respect to Gypsy and Travellers and travelling showpeople.

“It will then subsequently identify a list of sites to meet that need and the list of sites would then be published at that stage for public consultation.

“The current timescales indicate this will be consulted upon in summer 2024, with the adoption of the [reviewed] local plan taking place in 2026.”

His comments came after a resident questioned the latest on the traveller site review and requested an update on planned sites.

David Butcher, who spoke in the council chamber, also asked the cabinet member: “Will there be an announcement about the sites that aren’t available or will no longer be available?

“I’d like to see something about all of the sites that aren’t now available, so the public and the Gypsy and Travellers community are fully aware of that.”

In response, Cllr Richardson said he was “not sure if that information will be available” but pledged to find out and provide a written response.

When bringing forward the plans in 2019, the authority said creating allocated sites would reduce the number of illegal caravan encampments in the district’s open spaces.

And the Government said it wanted more sites to be brought forward because “everybody should have the opportunity for a decent home”.

A traveller organisation in the county echoed this view last year and said the plans would help their communities to “live in peace and quiet”.

Richard Bennett, of the Gypsy Life organisation which supports the travelling community in Nottinghamshire, said: “Our society is the same as everyone else.

“We just want to be happy, to follow our happiness and have the right to own our land and live in peace and quiet.”

Newark and Sherwood District Council brought forward similar plans between 2021 and 2022, with the district home to “one of the country’s largest traveller populations”.

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