A FUND of nearly half a million pounds is to be allocated to find new sites for Travellers or Gypsies in the Harborough district.
The Government is to give the county £4.6m to create 56 new pitches - £440,000 of which will be going to the Harborough and Lutterworth area to create five new pitches.
The issue could prove controversial as there are already several Travellers’ sites in the district. These include the larger sites at Justin Park and Greenacres in Harborough and Mere Farm site between Ullesthorpe and Bitteswell. There are smaller conurbations at Braybrooke and Desborough on the outskirts of Harborough and another between Lutterworth and Gillmorton.
Harborough Council, which decides on planning matters says the initiative will rely on the outcome of a consultation with the community.
The council was approached by Framework Housing Association about the potential developments.
The Housing Association developed a bid to the Homes and Communities Agency as part of a county-wide strategy to meet the needs of Gypsies and Travellers in Leicestershire by increasing the number of socially-rented pitches.
Cllr Janette Ackerley, who has responsibility for housing and planning at the district council, said: “The council is fully committed to meeting its duties to Travellers in the district. However, due to the sensitivities involved in identifying specific sites for development, full commitment on this initiative will be dependant on the details of the bid and on the outcome of full consultation with all key stakeholders including the local communities which must be carried out before any particular site could be developed.
“Any proposal would require planning permission before development could take place.”
The Government has allocated £60m nationwide to provide hundreds of pitches.
“It will assist hundreds of Traveller families find sites where they want to live and foster better relations with existing communities and councils,” said the Government’s communities minister Andrew Stunell.