Allocate space for travellers on estates

PUBLISHED: 17:00 30 June 2012 | UPDATED: 13:32 01 July 2012

DEVELOPERS have now been officially asked to find space on their land for specialised traveller and gypsy sites.

The Mercury revealed earlier this year that North Somerset Council is looking to ‘persuade’ landowners to allocate space within the new Weston Villages developments for the sites so the travellers can ‘live side-by-side’ with locals.

But now home builders have been told it is a necessity, rather than a choice.

The authority has had to turn to more urban areas to create the new facilities, after more rural land it was looking at was rated as high flood-risk by the Environment Agency.

North Somerset is set to earn £2million over the next year by finding sites for traveller pitches in the area.

The authority’s deputy leader Elfan Ap Rees says a meeting has been held between council officers and Persimmon, Meadow Mead and St Modwen Homes where the companies were told at least two sites with up to 30 pitches in total are required to meet local traveller family needs.

The council says it is under growing pressure to find the sites due to the growing and ageing population of travellers already living in the district, which means the children now need homes. The Weston Villages development lies between Winterstoke Road and Wolvershill Road, to include the former airfield, Locking Parklands at the former RAF camp and the Mead Realisations’ land south of Somerset Avenue.

One housing association has already come forward to say it would like to run some pitches, which are likely to go on land adjacent to the new housing developments where they can be suitably landscaped and are convenient for schools, shops and other amenities.

Cllr Ap Rees said: “It is important to identify legal sites before we are faced with travellers moving onto land without planning permission and creating new problems.

“We have a situation where some pitches are becoming overcrowded and we have a duty to the local community to respond.”

In North Somerset there are nearly 50 permanent traveller pitches across multiple sites already.

These include Willowmead and the privately-owned Moorland Park in Hewish.

The monthly thousands-of-pounds-per-caravan payments mean councils can claim back extra money from the Government in return for clearing the way for sites.

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