Demonstrations to be held over gypsy site

TWO campaign groups are set to hold rival demonstrations before a planning meeting about a potential new travellers site in Colchester.

The fate of a travellers site at Severalls Lane in the north of the town will be decided by Colchester Borough Council’s planning committee on Thursday.

More than 1,000 objections have been submitted to the council about the site which would accommodate 12 pitches, an office, parking for 24 vehicles and a new access road.

Demonstrations for and against the planning application have been planned for outside Colchester Town Hall at 5.30pm – ahead of the meeting which starts at 6pm.

Artist Daisy Lees, who promotes cultural diversity and is supporting the plans, said: “It is part of the culture of gypsy and traveller groups to live in a whole community site.

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“They have lived for generations in communities and their culture should be protected. They don’t want to be re-homed in council houses or bedsits.

“The opposition to the site is a knee jerk reaction based on prejudice. The gypsy community is part of the wider cultural community in Essex and their way of life should be respected.”

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Stuart St Clair Pearce, from Severalls Lane Action Group which is opposing the plans, said: “The site where they are going to put 96 people is unsafe and the eco-structure can not sustain it.

“There is no adequate sewage system and it will kill the otters and voles which are living in Salary Brook.

“This is absolutely ludicrous – the council hasn’t carried out a proper consultation or considered any other sites where they could go. The gypsies don’t want to live there because there’s no access to a main road.”

Planning officers have recommended the application for approval subject to receiving confirmation from Natural England and the Environment Agency that their concerns have been addressed.

The plans comprise 12 units consisting of a lounge, kitchen and bathroom in six semi-detached blocks finished in either brick or timber boarding and slate or tiled roofs. Each plot includes a paved driveway, caravan parking area and amenity space. There will also be a central children’s play area.

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