Coventry & Warwickshire

Warwick council seeks land for Gypsy sites

The site at Beausale
Image caption Travellers created an unauthorised site in Beausale near Warwick in May 2010

Land to provide sites for Gypsies and travellers in Warwick is being sought by the council.

Warwick District Council has been warned it needs to provide sites or risk losing legal action against groups who set up camp illegally.

It is the only authority in the county without any designated traveller sites.

David Barber, the council's development policy manager, said it was "actively" looking for sites, despite struggling to avoid greenbelt.

Multiple sites

He said: "We have some tricky issues in that 80% of the district is greenbelt and that gives us difficulty in finding appropriate sites."

The council has been advised it needs to provide 31 traveller pitches within the next 15 years, 25 of which should be created by 2018.

This is in response to the 2012 government guidelines on creating a Local Plan to control all building and development.

Mr Barber said: "We're currently looking at potential sites for these pitches, a site might have between five and 15 pitches on it so to find sites for 30 pitches we need between two and six sites.

"We've been approaching some private land owners, looking actively at publicly owned land, working very closely with the county council."

Proposed sites are expected to be published for public consultation "in the summer".

Mr Barber said failure to provide sites would weaken planning decisions and legal action against unauthorised development.

After a planning dispute with British Romany Gypsies in Beausale, in Warwick district, in 2011, the inspector acting for the Secretary of State said some weight should be given to "the level of local unmet need and considers that national and regional need for more permanent gypsy sites also has material weight".

The Gypsies were refused planning permission for eight pitches on the Kites Lane site and an appeal has been lodged.

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