From the Somerset Guardian
Bath and North East Somerset Council's proposals to introduce Traveller sites at Stanton Wick have been met with a great deal of local opposition and I have received a lot of correspondence from constituents outlining their concerns.
In accordance with Government guidelines, which fall within the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), local authorities should give Travellers fair and equal treatment and offer sufficient scope to meet their residential requirements.
In consulting to find a number of sites, B&NES is mainly following central Government instructions. However, my concerns about the Stanton Wick plans are two-fold.
First, there is the issue of developing on the greenbelt. The NPPF states that placing sites on the greenbelt must normally be avoided and such land ought to be used only in exceptional circumstances. It is important to protect the greenbelt in our area as there has long been a risk that the rural hinterland around Bath and Bristol could be eaten into. With some brown field areas available it is hard to argue that the circumstances are exceptional.
Second, informed local consent needs to be secured. NPPF guidelines emphasise that the welfare of the community is to be given equal importance in balance with the need to find Traveller pitches. Development should be proportionate to where it is occurring and B&NES has a difficult task of meeting the competing legal requirements.
Ultimately, it is important that a site is welcomed by the local community to encourage a harmonious society. As this is not currently the case I hope the council will search for other less controversial areas.