EERA in demand for gypsy sites

PUBLISHED: 13:12 07 September 2006 | UPDATED: 10:48 06 May 2010

GYPSY sites could be established in North Herts and Stevenage over the next five years. A recent survey has been carried out on behalf of the affected councils – North Herts District Council, Stevenage Borough Council, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, Eas

GYPSY sites could be established in North Herts and Stevenage over the next five years.

A recent survey has been carried out on behalf of the affected councils - North Herts District Council, Stevenage Borough Council, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, East Herts District Council and Broxbourne Borough Council.

Cllr Bob Parker, EHDC's executive member for community, said: "This is the first stage of the process and no sites have been earmarked yet, nor has any local authority been selected to house a site."

Now representatives from all five councils, along with Herts County Council, are required by government to investigate exactly where these extra sites could be built.

Unless appropriate levels of provision are made at the earliest opportunity, site allocations will be made by the East of England Regional Assembly and will not be subject to negotiation.

Cllr Parker said: "Sites will be looked at depending on a range of factors, such as closeness to public transport and health facilities, but even when the group identifies them as possible sites for the future it will still be up to the individual council covering that area to oversee the process - and that will involve consultation with local residents."

A spokesman for NHDC said: "NHDC is waiting for a follow up report from the survey which will suggest possible locations for new pitches, before deciding on the next steps."

The survey revealed that all current sites for gypsies and travellers in north and east Hertfordshire are full and there are no new sites in the pipeline.

There are also no transit sites in the study area.

The predicted need for 45 additional individual pitches, on top of the 52 already in place, includes 35 permanent pitches - 20 of these to accommodate those already on a waiting list - as well as 10 pitches to accommodate transit or emergency stop-over sites.

Over the next 25 years, the study predicts the number of pitches will need to increase to 200 to meet the projected needs of the existing gypsy and traveller population - half of which are children under the age of 16.

The survey, completed by Opinion Research Services, will be presented to EHDC's executive on September 12.

A spokesman for Stevenage Borough Council said: "We are working with our partner authorities in Hertfordshire to address this issue.

"The partner authorities are to meet in October to discuss the way forward, including the possibility of jointly funding a study to identify how the future needs of gypsy and travellers are to be met within the study area.

"However, the process is still in its early stages and the views of local residents will be sought before any final decisions are made.

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