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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.”

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