Watchfield Gypsy and traveller site is approved

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Plans to build a permanent Gypsy and traveller site in Oxfordshire have been approved.

The proposals for 16 pitches next to the A420 in Watchfield were approved by Vale of White Horse District Council at a meeting on Thursday.

Watchfield Parish Council and some residents had opposed the plans, which were previously rejected in August 2011.

The Gypsy Council has welcomed the announcement.

'Further development'

Joseph Jones, from the Gypsy Council, said: "It's always good when a new site gets passed.

"It's well documented that there are not enough sites in the UK and a lot of councils rely on windfall approvals such as this to meet allocations of so-far unmet needs."

The district council said it received 47 letters of objection to the plans from local residents and organisations.

Concerns raised included insufficient capacity for additional children at Watchfield Primary School and that the site was too close to the village's wind turbines.

Ruth Holman, deputy chair of the parish council, said the main concern was road safety due to "insufficient pedestrian crossing provision" across the A420 which separates the site from the village.

"It may also lead to further development and we are opposed to any sort of development in the village," she added.

Under the terms of the Housing Act 2004, local authorities must assess the accommodation needs of gypsies and travellers and identify where new pitches should be located.

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