Plans to reopen gipsy and traveller site dubbed “crazy” by locals

PLANS to re-open a gipsy and traveller site have been branded “crazy” by a landowner.

South Cambridgeshire District Council has announced that it intends to buy and re-open the Mettle Hill site, off Kneesworth Road, Meldreth.

The site, which is currently owned by Cambridgeshire County Council, closed 16 years ago, but the council wants to re-establish it to help meet it’s target of providing 20 extra pitches in the district.

Travelling showman John Biddall owns a plot of land opposite the site, which houses 11 families.

He said: “It’s absolutely crazy. I’ve got families on my site who won’t be able to sleep at night if it reopens.”

Mr Biddall heard about the plans when a council officer contacted him on Wednesday. He bought his land in 1996, just after Mettle Hill closed down.

“We’ve spent a fortune doing the place up, and have been living in tranquillity ever since. We’ve never caused a problem to other people in the area,” he said.

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Cllr Mark Howell, the district council’s cabinet member for housing, said: “Residents are quite rightly concerned when any type of development is proposed in their area, but Mettle Hill has been used as a travellers site in the past and we believe it is the best option to meet our legal obligations to provide sufficient accommodation for travellers currently living in the district.

“We have only just published our intentions to reopen the site, but already we have begun the discussions with local communities about how to ensure it is of the highest quality, and delivered in the best way for everyone living nearby. I can reassure all nearby residents that if the site does get financial approval we will want to work closely with them every step of the way.”

The plans were announced in a report which will be discussed when the district council’s cabinet meets on Thursday, November 8. Reopening Mettle Hill would cost �500,000, and the council is proposing to use existing central government funding to pay for the site, which would house eight to10 pitches.

“It is important to also remember that residents are frequently frustrated when travellers pitch up illegally on land around the district, and the reopening of this site could help alleviate some of this problem,” said Cllr Howell.

The district council is also proposing to purchase the exiting gipsy and traveller site at Whaddon, which is also owned by the county council.