A LONG-standing unauthorised Traveller site in Teignbridge has taken a step closer to becoming a smaller permanent facility for Travellers thanks to a £1,115,000 funding boost from the Homes and Communities Agency.
Since it was first occupied in August 2001 the site in Haldon, near Exeter, has been unauthorised but tolerated by local authorities, including land owner Devon County Council and planning authority Teignbridge District Council. It has however been in need of a long term solution and the authorities have been working together with Teign Housing to bid for funding for a formal site.
Today the HCA announced the success of the bid, which was based on providing a smaller site with proper facilities. The new site will include pitches for permanent residents, along with utilities such as toilets, showers and power.
The plans follow long-term consultation with people living on and near the site, who will continue to be involved in the process. Importantly, the permanent site will require planning permission, and those involved will soon be getting to work on a formal planning application. This will include ecological surveys, will seek views of other agencies, and will provide an important opportunity for members of the public to have their say on the application.
It is anticipated that Teign Housing will submit the application for the site, as it will be responsible for management and running of any facility. If planning permission is approved, ownership of the land will be transferred to Teignbridge District Council. Devon County Council currently owns the land and has been closely involved in the bid for funding. Teignbridge will work closely with Teign Housing on the development of the site and with anyone affected by the plans.
Cllr Philip Vogel, Teignbridge Executive Spokesperson for Housing and Planning said: "Haldon has been in need of a long-term solution for many years, and we’re extremely pleased to have this funding to help create a good quality, permanent site.
“It’s very important that any site is appropriate to the area and follows the proper planning process, and we’ll be working alongside our partners to help take this forward.
“In common with other local authorities, Teignbridge has identified a clear need for Gypsy and Traveller pitches and the proposed site at Haldon will be a big step forward in meeting this need. We know it will be a complex project about which there will be many different views, but we won’t shy away from the challenge of resolving this sensitive issue. There will need to be a little compromise on all sides, but by taking this measured approach we hope to create a site which is safe, regulated, and offers permanent homes which contribute towards local services by paying council tax.”
Mike Hanrahan, Chief Executive of Teign Housing said:
“This is a positive step towards providing a permanent site for travellers at Haldon. Individual Gypsy and Traveller groups are very diverse and we will work closely with Travellers at Haldon to understand their needs so that any plans we submit create a sustainable community. We will also work with our partners and the surrounding settled community to make sure that all views are heard throughout the planning process.”
Cllr John Goodey, one of Teignbridge District Council’s local Ward Members for Kenn Valley added:
“Teignbridge has an obligation to try and identify suitable permanent and transit sites for the Traveller community. The site in Haldon Forest is on land of outstanding natural beauty, which rightly must be protected for this and future generations.
“However this site is fairly isolated from surrounding settlements and has good access to essential local amenities. Any application would have to follow the due process of planning, but should the council grant permission for a permanent site I would welcome the opportunity to work with other agencies and the Traveller community. Together we must work hard to maintain the site and protect the surrounding area for the benefit of all residents and visitors to Haldon Forest.”