DERBYSHIRE DALES: County withdraws traveller sites

Derbyshire County Council has withdrawn all five of its suggested traveller sites in the Derbyshire Dales.

Saturday, 19th January 2013, 8:19 am

The County Council has also withdrawn from the list land it owns in Mayfield Road, Ashbourne – one of the original sites put forward by the Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison

Group (DGLG).

It means 11 sites that have already come under scrutiny will be discussed again at a special meeting on Tuesday (22 January) of Derbyshire Dales District Council’s

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Corporate Committee.

The District Council has a legal obligation to identify a Traveller site in the district and last month deferred a decision on which sites to take forward for further consultation when the County Council submitted its own potential sites.

On Friday however, County Council officers contacted the District Council to announce that after further investigation they were withdrawing all five sites - in

Snelston, Brassington, Wirksworth and two in Longford – as either unsuitable or unavailable. Additionally they withdrew the Mayfield site in Ashbourne.

Two of these sites – Ashbourne’s Mayfield Road on the other side of the County Council’s Waste Transfer Station and Ravenstor Industrial Estate in Wirksworth – had

scored highly in Derbyshire Dales District Council’s Traveller Site Evaluation Matrix.

The matrix considers factors such as site size, ownership, availability, proximity to residential properties, vehicular access, bus routes, shops and schools, ground

conditions, access to health services, privacy, security, water, electric and gas provision and access to waste disposal.

District Council Chief Executive Dorcas Bunton said: “Councillors already faced an incredibly difficult decision to narrow down the search ahead of more detailed public consultation, so the timing of the withdrawal of the County Council sites is frustrating.

“We are now back to a list of sites already looked at and will try to move the process forward on Tuesday. We would remind the public however that even if a site or sites are identified for further consideration, there will be detailed public consultation before, ultimately, the submission of a planning application for a preferred site, which would again involve an additional phase of public consultation. So local people will continue to be consulted at all stages.”

A number of the remaining 11 locations have been suggested by the Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group (DGLG).

The District Council has a statutory duty with regard to a Traveller family currently camped on land at Bakewell Showground. The family have been presented as

homeless and the District Council has a statutory duty to provide accommodation.

Legally, the District Council must provide accommodation suitable to an applicant’s individual needs - and in this case that doesn’t include a bricks and mortar home, which has already been offered to the family but rejected on cultural grounds. Due to the unique circumstances and needs of this family, the only form of suitable accommodation is a site for their caravans.

A temporary site for a maximum period of nine months has been identified at Rowsley, but this is subject to planning permission, which has now been submitted.

Corporate Committee members have already viewed all 11 remaining sites.

12 sites were originally put forward, but last month’s announcement by Nestlé that they are not willing to lift the covenant prohibiting development on land owned by the District Council at Watery Lane in Ashbourne means this option can no longer be pursued.