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Gypsy and Traveller Site Local Plan Town Council representation to CBC 30.1.14

Representation to Council on G & T local plan 30th January 2014 Over the last two weeks I have made representations to both the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the Executive regarding Potton Town Council’s objection to the revised site allocations. At neither meeting were these representations discussed or scrutinised by members. It is Potton Town Council’s assertion that the process is unsound. At the OSC meeting it was stated members may wish to consider removing site 58 from the shortlist in favour of expanding the existing Potton traveller site outside of the local plan. The portfolio holder announced without prior notice to the public that this could generate up to 13 additional pitches on this site which has 14 already. Potton Town Council remains totally opposed to expansion of the Potton site due to its adverse history in the 1990s when the site was twice the size it is today. Again at the Executive meeting there was no discussion of the issues by members. Further, Cllr. Young announced without prior notice to the public that the revised location of site 55 to site 26 would carry with it a 50% increase in the number of pitches from 10 to 15 as would site 16 in Barton. If this plan is passed the areas in and around Potton and Barton will gain 43 additional pitches – that is 65% of the allocation – and this figure excludes the existing pitches In Potton and sites for travelling showpeople. Potton could end up with 42 pitches within a three mile radius. It is hardly surprising that the general public think this is disproportionate. In the initial plan last year nine shortlisted sites were identified. How they were determined was not stated by the Chairman of the OSC. During the lunch break of the OSC meeting the list was reduced to seven following strong representations by two ward members one of whom was a member of the scrutiny committee, the other being an ex leader of the Council. The reason given for their removal by the Chairman was that they could find sufficient plots without them. I am not disposed to cynicism but there appears to be a number of coincidences appearing throughout this process. The rationale for moving site 55 to site 26 was in the words of Cllr. Young after listening to the comments of a number of respondents. This number was apparently one – Biggleswade Town Council who just happens to have a member who is an ex leader of a predecessor authority and members of this one. Is this just another coincidence? The two areas with the highest proportion of proposed sites by far just happen to have independent ward councillors on this authority. Is this yet another coincidence? I doubt that my comments will have any more impact on this evening’s outcome than it has in the previous two meetings so it will be interesting to see what the Inspector makes of these statistics and the soundness of the process. Alan Leggatt Chairman Potton Town Council

Central Bedfordshire Council Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan

Central Bedfordshire Overview and Scrutiny Committee met on 14th January 2014 to consider some changes to the shortlist of sites. In the Potton area a suggested change was to remove the site “Land south west of Park Corner Farm and south of Dunton Lane site 55)” and replace it with “Land south of Dunton Lane and west of Dunton (site 26)” (15 pitches). Another suggested change was to remove the site proposed at the Heath, east of Potton Road and south of Ram Farm (site 58). Potton Town Council has been informed that there is an intention to expand the current site at Common Road, Potton to help deliver more pitches as “windfall sites” There were a number of speakers who addressed the meeting including Potton Town Council Chairman Mr Alan Leggatt and Ward Councillor Mr Adam Zerny. A copy of the Potton Town Council Chairman’s representation to the Scrutiny Committee Meeting is included below for information. The representation was not debated by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee prior to making its decision which was to recommend that the changes should be forwarded to the Executive Committee. Potton’s representation was also circulated to Executive Members together with a response from DLP planning consultants to be considered at the CBC Executive Meeting on 21st January 2014. Potton Town Council and DLP will continue to argue that sites 55,26,and 58 are unsuitable for development and will oppose any plan to expand the existing Common Road site. Chairman’s representation to meeting “In the proposed changes to the Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan published recently, Central Bedfordshire Council present, in Appendix D, its responses to the issues raised by the general public and other authorities during the previous consultation periods. Regarding policy GT12 (or Site 58 in the site assessment) it is suggested that “the Overview and Scrutiny Committee may wish to remove this site from the plan in order to consider the expansion of the existing Potton site outside of the plan making process”. Whilst it is welcomed that site 58 could be removed from the shortlist, Potton Town Council remains totally opposed to expansion of the existing site. Potton has had a traveller site for close on 40 years. When the site was extended in 1990 it became totally unmanageable and major issues occurred which led to its notoriety making the national press. Subsequently in 1996, at great expense to the tax payer, Mid Bedfordshire District Council completely refurbished the site and reduced the number of pitches to 14. In 2002 MBDC lost a high court judgement and were fined, being found responsible for negligence and causing nuisance which caused devaluation of house prices of properties close to the site. Since those times there has been a more harmonious relationship between the residents of the site and the community in Potton which we do not want compromised but even now it is arguable that the site is being well managed by this authority. CBC has stated its preference for small sites of 5 pitches but accepts there will be a need for some to be as large as 10 or 12. The Potton site already far exceeds this figure and any further expansion would be contrary to the Council’s policy. Potton Town Council has instructed independent professional planning consultants to formally respond to the findings of the GTAA 2014 assessment and the proposed changes to the local plan with particular regard to the unsuitability of sites 55, 26 58 and the existing Potton gypsy and traveller site. A copy of their representation has been circulated to committee members and I trust they have read it. We request that due consideration is taken of its contents at this meeting.”

DLF Gypsy and Traveller Site Consultation

The Consultation period has now ended. Potton Town Council and Planning Consultants working for Potton and the surrounding villages have both submitted comprehensive reports on why the 2 sites left in the plan (the Heath and at Dunton) should not have been included. Representatives from Potton Town Council and the Planning Consultanats will attend and speak at the Inspectors Hearing although dates are not yet known.

Consultation on Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan

Time to have your say on the Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan Residents now have the chance to give their views on the plan which includes a ‘short-list’ of new gypsy and traveller sites in Central Bedfordshire, as a public consultation on Central Bedfordshire Council’s draft Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan was launched today (Monday, 20 May). The plan sets out how the accommodation needs of gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople will be met in the area up until 2031, as well as detailing the planning policies against which all planning applications for these sites will be assessed. The consultation runs between Monday, 20 May and Monday, 1 July. The easiest way for residents to give us their feedback is via an interactive version of the Draft Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan which can be found on our Gypsy and Traveller webpage http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/gypsytravellerplan. This web page provides instructions on how to give your feedback online, links to all supporting documentation and some Frequently Asked Questions, for respondents to reference. However, feedback on the document can also be given using a paper form which will be available at all Central Bedfordshire Council offices and our libraries. Residents should then either send their completed form to FREEPOST RSJS GBBZ SRZT Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan, Central Bedfordshire Council, Priory House, Monks Walk, Chicksands, Shefford, Beds, SG17 5TQ, or scan and email it to LDF@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk Cllr Nigel Young, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities (Strategic Planning and Economic Development), said: “We know the Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan is of considerable public interest and now is the time for residents to have their say. If you’ve made comments before, please reiterate them, so we can ensure they are taken into account in this part of the process. “I must stress that as we will be passing on all representations made to the Planning Inspector, residents need to ensure their comments are based on the level of ‘soundness’ and legal compliance of the plan, as these are the criteria the Planning Inspector will be assessing it under. If these terms don’t mean anything to you, don’t worry, as definitions are provided on our website and in the supporting documentation with the paper forms. “Essentially, legal compliance relates to whether the document has been prepared in accordance with planning regulations and ‘soundness’ refers to whether the document has been prepared correctly and is the most appropriate Local Plan for Central Bedfordshire, when compared against alternatives.” Residents are advised that if they do not indicate on the comments form whether or not they feel the plan is ‘sound’ or legally compliant, the council is required to fill in this information on behalf of them based on their responses to the other questions. ENDS The ‘short-list’ of seven proposed sites accommodates an estimated 66 possible pitches that would help to fulfil the need for the next ten years. These are: * Land E of Watling Street and S of Dunstable (Site 92) * Land W of A6, S of Faldo Rd and W of Barton-le-Clay (Site 16) * Land S of Fairfield and W of Stotfold Rd (Site 76) * 1 Old Acres, Barton Rd, Pulloxhill (Site 116) * Land SE of Park Corner Farm and S of Dunton Lane (Site 55) * Land E of M1, Tingrith (Site 78) * Land E of Potton Rd and S of Ram Farm (Site 58) Travelling Showpeople * Kennel Farm Holdings, E of Biggleswade (Site 82) The plan is to provide for a total 157 Gypsy and Traveller and 22 pitches for Travelling Showpeople in the period up to 2031. These suggested sites will meet only part of that need and the council will meet the remaining allocation required through major development proposals, windfall sites (unexpected applications) and current live applications or appeals. All submissions made as part of this upcoming consultation will be provided to the Secretary of State, who will appoint an independent Planning Inspector to examine the Plan and process. A public examination will follow in early 2014 after which the Planning Inspector will make his final ruling – either to support the Plan or ask the council to look at it again. The site recommendations were based on three waves of assessment, visits by councillors and comments and feedback received from the community. For further information please contact: Tom Skinner on 0300 300 5738