South East Wales

Newport traveller site opposed by minister and firms

Media captionIt is claimed travellers would deter new companies from the park

Business Minister Edwina Hart has stepped into a row over a planned transit site for travellers on a business park in Newport.

The minister has joined 18 local companies in opposing the site at Imperial Park which it is claimed will put new companies off moving there and jeopardise jobs.

Mrs Hart said the park was a "key strategic employment site".

Newport council said it is receiving all comments as part of a consultation.

The site is next to some of the city's best-known businesses, like the Next Generation Data Centre and Quinn's radiator factory.

They say a travellers' site will make the park a "significantly poorer business environment".

Letters have been sent to the council on behalf of 18 firms on the business park. Some say the site may discourage them from expanding and could jeopardise jobs.

A letter from one surveyor says a "number" of firms have already been put off moving to Newport.

"We have recently had a number of potential enquiries refuse to consider the location once they are aware of the ...proposed traveller transit site," the letter says.

Another letter of opposition claims any expansion of an existing businesses would be difficult to justify alongside the planned Traveller site.

BBC Wales has also obtained a copy of a letter from Mrs Hart who also opposes the proposal saying the park is a "key strategic employment site".

Legal requirement

Figures obtained by BBC Wales show that 400 new traveller pitches are needed throughout Wales for about 1,200 caravans.

Celtic Way on Imperial Park is one of three potential traveller sites earmarked in Newport's Local Development Plan (LDP).

Local people have objected to all three but councils are legally bound to provide space for Gypsies and travellers.

The Welsh government is looking to introduce tougher housing laws which could see councils prosecuted if adequate sites are not provided.

A council spokesperson said: "Newport City Council is considering all the comments received as part of the consultation. Any amendments to the LDP will be subject to a further round of consultation due to begin next month."

Councillors are then expected to consider the LDP at a meeting later this year and, if approved, send it to the Welsh government.

"A planning inspector will then be appointed to hold a public examination and determine whether the plan is a sound document," the spokesperson added.

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