Firm celebrates travellers' site verdict

By Juliette MaxamTHE owner of a camping and caravan park said he can now get on with attracting tourists after councillors ruled last night a travellers' site could not be built on land next door.

By Juliette Maxam

THE owner of a camping and caravan park said he can now get on with attracting tourists after councillors ruled last night a travellers' site could not be built on land next door.

Colchester Borough Council's cabinet met last night to discuss a selection process drawn up by consultants for earmarking a location for a travellers' site after it failed to find one last year.

About 250 members of the public attended the meeting, which was held in the town's historic Moot Hall.

Consultants CDN Planning came up with a three-tier method of finding a site, as well as four potential locations – at Cymbeline Way, Lexden, two pieces of land off Severall's Lane and a site at Ardleigh Cross.

The Lexden site proposal was scrapped as it is within a countryside conservation area, but the three other sites were put forward for the next round of the selection process, which will look in detail at the practicalities of each location.

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During that time the cabinet promised there would be extensive consultation – particularly with Ardleigh Parish Council and Tendring District Council, which represent residents nearest the Ardleigh Cross site.

The cabinet will then either choose a site or throw them all out on September 3.

Christian Thorp, whose family own Colchester Camping and Caravan Park, had feared two-thirds of their business would be lost if a travellers' site was built next door on land off Cymbeline Way.

"I'm delighted. We have got a viable business again. I can get on with promoting the tourist industry for Colchester instead of fighting this," he said.

Georgina Gane, representing residents of Plains Farm Close, Colchester, who are just on the other side of the A12 from the Ardleigh Cross site, told the council she thought the site had failed the selection criteria because the access was through a residential area and it does not have its own access road.

"This site has been earmarked because it falls well outside the area of people who can vote for people in this room," she added.

"It will overwhelm the people who live in the access road and overwhelm the facilities."

Representatives from the Mile End area of Colchester opposed the Severall's Lane sites because they were near the existing business park and the proposed Cuckoo Farm development industrial area, which they claimed was contrary to the selection criteria.

n Former Labour councillor Kim Naish was thrown out at the start of the meeting after he accused the cabinet of only caring about receiving their expenses when he highlighted the plight of an empty council house in the St Anne's area of Colchester.

Council leader Colin Sykes said: "The allegation that any member of the council is here to get expenses I find entirely objectionable as well as scurrilous, vexatious, improper and irrelevant."

juliette.maxam@eadt.co.uk

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