Mid Wales

Welshpool gypsy camp revamp plans approved by planners

Plans for a £1.3m revamp of a gypsy camp have been unanimously backed by councillors in Powys.

The Welsh Assembly Government announced in March that the Withybeds site at Welshpool would receive a grant of £970,696 to help pay for improvements.

To make up the money needed for the project, Powys council is to increase residents' weekly rent from £35 to £60.

The plans, which were recommended for approval, include refurbished pitches and five new amenity buildings.

Powys council's planning committee unanimously supported the proposals at a meeting.

A council report said the assembly government grant had to be spent by February 2011, and without the money the site could not be redeveloped.

"Without this funding the site cannot be re-developed and Powys will remain in breach of its duty to provide a suitable gypsy and travellers' caravan site," said the report.

'Significant risks'

It said this exposed the authority to "significant risks" in view of the "current poor standards" on site.

Powys council said in May that it intended to nearly double residents' rent at the site.

This will fund the local authority's 25% contribution towards the project at the camp, which opened in 1982.

Currently, the local authority collects just over £16,000 in rent per year, but under the new rental agreement that will increase to more than £28,000.

According to the council, this will be enough to finance a loan and contribute to repairs and maintenance.

In March, it was announced that more than £2m was to be spent improving five gypsy and traveller sites in Welshpool, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Swansea, Torfaen and Cardiff, with the largest grant going to the Withybeds.

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