Battle over new gipsy sites

PUBLISHED: 11:22 18 June 2009 | UPDATED: 16:03 11 May 2010

VILLAGERS have vowed to fight plans for new gipsy and traveller pitches near Royston. South Cambridgeshire District Council has identified land at Spring Lane, Bassingbourn, as a potential location for five pitches, while New Farm, on Old North Road, Whad

VILLAGERS have vowed to fight plans for new gipsy and traveller pitches near Royston.

South Cambridgeshire District Council has identified land at Spring Lane, Bassingbourn, as a potential location for five pitches, while New Farm, on Old North Road, Whaddon, could house two pitches.

Under the East of England Plan, at least 88 new permanent pitches need to be built in South Cambridgeshire by 2021. The district council has announced that it hopes to consult residents about locations for a total of 149 pitches.

But Cllr Jack White, chairman of Bassingbourn Parish Council, said villagers could mount a campaign similar to that carried out by Barkway residents last year. They successfully had a site in their village removed from the list of potential pitches in North Herts.

Cllr White said: "I'm aware of how they protested in Barkway and I hope we can do something similar. The site is at the end of a country lane and I don't think that is a suitable place for these pitches.

"We have travellers at an existing site near Bassingbourn who are no trouble whatsoever, and are valuable members of the community. But if they try and put people somewhere they don't want to be that is when you get problems."

Bassingbourn's district councillor, Nigel Cathcart, added: "There are some serious planning concerns surrounding these sites which will need to be looked at very carefully."

Cllr David Bard, the district council's portfolio holder for new communities, said: "At this stage, nothing is final. We have made a firm commitment to involve the community in all stages of the preparation of the plan and at my portfolio holder meeting I will be ensuring we have the means in place to consult effectively with the public so that everyone who wants to can have their say on proposed sites and if they wish, put forward alternative sites for consideration."

Providing the consultation on gipsy and traveller sites is given the go-ahead at the district council's new communities portfolio holder meeting tomorrow (Friday), it will begin on July 10 and run for a 13-week period.

Residents will be able to submit comments by post, email, or online, while a series of exhibitions are being planned, including one at the The Limes, Old School Hall, Bassingbourn, on July 22.

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