Gipsy and traveller sites in Central Beds to be decided

Land east of Fairfield and south of the former pig development unit

Land east of Fairfield and south of the former pig development unit - Credit: Archant

THE location of controversial new gipsy and traveller sites are due to be earmarked today (Thursday).

A meeting, at the Council Chamber in Chicksands, will discuss plans for 32 sites around Central Bedfordshire.

A site in Langford, two sites in Stotfold and two in Fairfield Park are included in the shortlist, which was published ahead of the meeting.

Stotfold town councillor Barrie Dack, who lives in Fairfield Park, has opposed the plans from the beginning.

He said: “It appears the Central Bedfordshire council officers have chosen the sites without visiting. All of them fail to meet the laid down criteria and should already have been marked as failed.

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“If this has been repeated through the area then a lot of time has been wasted and a lot of hot air unnecessarily used.”

Land north of West Drive and east of Arlesey was also shortlisted but has now been discounted.

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Hugh Harper, chairman of Arlesey Residents’ Association, said: “We are very pleased with the outcome. It was not the right location for a gipsy and traveller site.

“Originally we said that we would accept Hitchin Road as an alternative provided that West Drive was taken off and the council agreed at the time.

“It was right in the middle of Arlesey, the land is also prone to flooding and the access is not suitable.”

The council estimates that 158 pitches and eight travelling show people plots will be needed by 2031 in order to meet the increasing population.

Cllr Nigel Young, executive member for sustainable communities, said: “We’re still at relatively early stages of a much longer, considered process. At the meeting we’ll be looking at these possible locations against the agreed assessment criteria to determine which sites are most suitable.

“What is absolutely vital to remember is that we have a statutory duty to provide appropriate accommodation to this community, just as we do for other communities.

“We work hard to meet the needs of both the gipsy and traveller and the settled communities and we must be equal in addressing need.”

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