Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Caravan site plan 'thin end of the wedge' - Darlington
PLANS to extend a private Gypsy caravan site have been dubbed the “thin edge of the wedge” by a councillor.
Hurworth councillor Martin Swainston said he is concerned about the growing number of Gypsy and traveller sites in the village and has criticised Darlington Borough Council’s failure to provide enough plots for travelling communities.
His comments come after plans were submitted for extending a private Gypsy site at the west of Snipe Lane, Hurworth, near Darlington, by adding an extra three plots for caravans.
Applicant Rebecca Maughan, who was granted permission for the private site in July last year, wants members of her extended family to come and live on the site.
Ms Maughan’s supporting statement said there is no space for her family members at sites in Durham, Darlington and London.
A government report has said that there is a need for 61 extra plots in Darlington for travelling communities.
In Snipe Lane, there is a seperate existing private Gypsy site owned by Robert Smith, and there is another application submitted for a private site from Foster Lee.
Alison Heine, Ms Maughan’s planning consultant, said in the supporting statement care would be taken to ensure the cluster of sites did not become “an unaacaptable scrawl”.
“there remains an immediate and pressing need for more sites in Darlington which to date has been met by ad hoc decisions for small family sites.
“The council has just been successful in its bid to the Home and Communities Agency (HCA) for funding for 20 more socially-provided sites. This is extrremely welcome but will not address the immediate need for 61 additional pitches by 2012. the council will rely on applications for private sites to make up the deficit.”
But Coun Swainston said: “ I am regularly contacted by residents on this issue. The village is bearing the brunt of private applications because the council has not provided enough sites.
“It is time Darlington Borough Council did what they are supposed to do.
“I am concerned this application to extend may be the thin end of the wedge. It is three more today; in a couple of years, it may be five or six. I am not anti-Gypsy or anti-traveller, but this is far too many sites for Hurworth.”
A council spokeswoman confirmed £1.5m had been allocated from the HCA for pitches and were looking at how best to spend it.
She said they were working on a document to accommodate the needs of Gypsies and travellers over the next 15 years, with consultation starting in the next two months.
“The planning application at Snipe Lane is to be determined on its individual merits based on the existing recently adopted local planning policy, together with national guidance."