Gypsy Site - The Story So Far
Following the Consultation Process for the Local Development Framework (LDF) the results and intended actions will be tabled to the Strategic Development Committee at the November Meeting of said Committee and we'll hear nothing before that meeting.
The Consultation Process formed only the first part of our Strategy in providing clear, objective and informed arguments against Heath Road, Swaffham Prior as a solution to East Cambridgeshire District Councils (ECDC) perceived need for additional pitches. In addition to the ability of villagers and their families to input their considered objections (via the questionnaires), there are many other Stakeholders influenced by this proposal; The Council's own Conservation Officers, Natural England, English Heritage, The Wildlife Trust, Devils Dyke Conservation Groups and Land Owners to mention but a few. Pressure was also being applied by our elected politicians, Parish Council and a number of highly visible individuals forced, in our opinion, a change to the content of the agenda item 6, at last Tuesdays (7th September) Strategic Development Committee Meeting.
The Principal Forward Planning Officer tabled a document, called Local Development Framework - Work Programme, to consider options "in light of legislative changes and guidance arising from the new Coalition Government" , something presented and dismissed at the June Meeting.
The recommendations put to the Committee in the 12 page document (see link below) covered five points, two of which were specific to Gypsy and Travelling Showpeople and in essence these proposed changes are: -
- All previous pitch targets (54 pitches) be dropped and ECDC should operate with an Interim number of pitches (24 pitches) whilst
- A full assessment is carried out i.e. Real Need & Local Requirements and would / should reflect the responses to the recent LDF Options Paper Consultation.
The recommendations were debated fully and our District Councillor Allen Alderson, in our opinion 'did us proud'; he questioned the methodology, the Need and NO local Requirements. It was also stated by Allen Alderson and the other Councillors that spoke, that with current vacant pitches and pitches with planning that have not been taken up, almost all of the 24 pitches could be satisfied from current availability - this was agreed by the Principal Forward Planning Officer. It also was made clear that of the 2000 responses to the 'Options Paper', the first of the two questionnaires, 40% were representations from Swaffham Prior and if that didn't say 'Local Input', then nothing did. It was also suggested that any additional pitches needed to reach the 'Interim Target'a much better solution would be by adding 1 or 2 pitches to existing sites.
Following the Meeting we are Cautiously Optimistic of a positive outcome at the November Meeting.