From the Cambridge News
Villagers are battling plans for a Travellers’ site, claiming their school and health centre are creaking at the seams as the pitches increase.
Willingham Parish Council has warned renewing temporary planning permission for a pitch in Meadow Road would “exacerbate the already intolerable situation”, with the ratio of Traveller to settled population running at four times the district average.
There are warnings the concentration of Travellers is putting a strain on the health centre and village primary school, where 12 per cent of children are Travellers.
In the last 10 months 40 extra caravans were granted planning permission by South Cambridgeshire District Council.
A report to the council’s planning committee, which highlighted Willingham residents’ concerns, said the number of caravans authorised or tolerated had risen from 394 last July to 437.
Jo Mills, director of planning and new communities, said the parish council had complained there were 408 caravans north of the A14, and only 58 to the south.
She said: “Willingham Parish Council recommends refusal because of the high proportion of Traveller sites already present in the village and the overwhelming opposition to any renewals or new sites until the problems relating to the illegal sites and proportionality have been addressed.
“Proposals to make permanent temporary and illegal sites and create new ones simply exacerbates Willingham’s already intolerable situation.”
The parish council referred to a letter from Willingham Medical Practice, which said demands on their services were “increasing greatly” and that, while it had started extra sessions and employed an extra doctor, “any further increase in capacity is limited by the available resources”.
Councillors have been recommended to approve the application, submitted by Caroline Smith, for three years tomorrow.
Ms Mills added: “While the lack of suitable alternative sites and the family’s general needs carry some weight in favour of the proposal, their need for this particular site is not compelling.”