- Friday, 01 March 2013 16:34
As the search continues to identify other potential Traveller sites in the Derbyshire Dales, a formal consultation begins on the Homesford option.
Derbyshire Dales District Council is to hold a public meeting at 7pm on 27 March at Wirksworth Leisure Centre, to which local residents, businesses and the parish council have been invited to have their say.
Meanwhile, a formal planning application for a temporary Traveller site in Rowsley for a maximum period of nine months will be considered by the District Council on 21 March.
At the end of January, a special meeting of the District Council's Corporate Committee rejected 10 sites from a list of 11, with just the Homesford option going forward for community consultation before the formal submission of any planning application.
The woodyard was selected to be retained for further consideration on an evaluation matrix that took into account many relevant factors, including site size, ownership, availability, proximity to residential properties, vehicular access, bus routes, shops and schools, ground conditions and access to health services.
However, the District Council has stressed that the eventual creation of a Traveller site at Homesford is far from a foregone conclusion.
Dialogue is continuing with the Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group (DGLG) with a view to identifying any other potential sites in the Derbyshire Dales for evaluation for a Traveller family currently parked at Bakewell Showground.
A District Council spokesperson said:
"A thorough public consultation exercise on the Homesford site is now underway, after which this option will be reported back to the Corporate Committee before any further consideration can be given to taking this site to a further stage, which would be a formal planning application.
"While the choice of Homesford was not unanimously popular among members at the meeting in January, we must reiterate the District Council's legal obligation to identify a site for the Traveller family in question.
"Members fully understand that the legal duty to offer suitable accommodation is absolute and cannot be discharged unless a suitable offer of accommodation is made. If we chose to ignore this duty, it could result in costly legal action against the Council that would have to be borne by the Council Tax payers of the Derbyshire Dales, and the duty to find suitable accommodation would still remain."
The District Council has written to local residents asking for responses to a series of questions:
- What concerns do you have about using Homesford Wood Yard as a site for a Traveller family?
- How important are the following measures in turning Homesford Wood Yard into a site for a Traveller family to mitigate the impact on the community – fencing, landscaping, security measures, site management, access arrangements, point of contact?
- Are there any other site specific measures you can suggest that would help reduce the impact of the Traveller site on the community?
- If you know that other suitable sites for a Traveller family are available, please give details of the sites' location and the owners, confirming that the owners are willing to accommodate a Traveller family.
- Please add any additional suggestions you have that would help minimise the impact of the Traveller site.