Travellers' site plans unveiled
FORMAL plans to establish a travellers' site in Colchester have been lodged with the borough council.But yesterday opponents said they would continue to try and scupper proposals for the new facility, to be located on land near Severalls Business Park.
By Roddy Ashworth
FORMAL plans to establish a travellers' site in Colchester have been lodged with the borough council.
But yesterday opponents said they would continue to try and scupper proposals for the new facility, to be located on land near Severalls Business Park.
A planning application for the site, which includes one site office, six amenity blocks, roads, footpaths and a play area, was made by Essex County Council.
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If approved, the site would house 11 families as well as a “live on” manager and his or her family.
It would be accessed via a new junction on Severalls Lane and the pitches would be surrounded by 6ft fences.
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The amenity blocks, each serving two pitches, would stand 8ft tall and the entire site would cover more than six acres, with landscaping around the perimeter of the site.
It is not known how long it will take before the proposal is considered by Colchester's planning committee, where it is certain to meet vociferous public opposition.
The location of the travellers' site was decided after an exhaustive process, involving specialist external consultants who conducted detailed analysis on available land.
Nearby businesses had expressed concerns about the prospect, as had residents in the nearby Highwoods Estate.
Yesterday Gerard Oxford, a borough councillor for the Highwoods area, vowed to continue the fight to try and block the plan.
“We will certainly oppose this application. The last we heard, the county council was still going through a feasibility study to see if the site is viable.
“With this, it obviously appears that they have done that.
“We object to this for a number of reasons. The land they are talking about is protected land and people are also concerned about the proximity to the business park.”
Mr Oxford added that he believed the fear of crime would rise on the Highwoods Estate as a result of the travellers' site and that it could affect house prices.
“Houses near travellers' sites have certainly been devalued in other areas. Some people have even had their houses rebanded for the council tax because of them. In some cases people could even be put into negative equity.”
Peter Martin, the Essex County Council cabinet member with responsibility for travellers' sites, said: “It is always very difficult to find a suitable location for one of these managed sites, but the county council does have a number around Essex already and we have rarely found we have problems with them.
“I certainly don't have any information on the value of houses decreasing, so I don't know where he gets that information from.
“We have looked at dozens of sites in the borough of Colchester because there is a need for a site in that area.
“In our view, we have done the feasibility study and it would seem to us this is a suitable site. That is why we have put the application in.”