York & North Yorkshire

Hundreds attend Dunnington traveller-site meetings

People queuing outside village hall
Image caption Hundreds of residents attended the meetings

Hundreds of residents of a village near York packed out two public meetings to hear about plans for a new gypsy and traveller site.

York's council wants to build a site with 15 permanent pitches on land in Dunnington, as part of its local plan.

The authority said it needed to provide 63 new gypsy and traveller pitches by 2025. Dunnington is one of three locations allocated around the city.

More than 1,000 people have signed an online petition against the plans.

'Visual impact'

Conservative councillor Jenny Brooks said: "[Residents] couldn't believe anyone would think it would be a suitable location for a traveller site.

"They are worried about the location, the effect on the openness of what is considered green belt, the impact of traffic... and the visual impact on the village."

But Christine Shepherd from the York Travellers' Trust said the location was "ideal".

"I think it's important that we don't exclude them or marginalise them and welcome them into our communities," she said.

Image caption York council said it planned to build 15 permanent pitches for gypsies and travellers in Dunnington

"We welcome other minority ethnic groups so I can't understand what the prejudice is against gypsies and travellers."

At the moment there are three permanent council-owned traveller sites in York, providing 55 pitches at Outgang Lane, James Street, and Water Lane.

As well as Dunnington, the authority has identified land as Osbaldwick and Huntington for the new sites.

York's draft local plan was agreed at a cabinet meeting in April and will be put out to public consultation in June.

The government's planning policy for traveller sites, published in a report in March 2012, states that local authorities should provide enough pitches to meet the needs of travellers in their area.

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