Travellers' site shortlist revealed

THE troubled search for a new traveller's site for Colchester moved a step closer last night when three shortlisted locations on the edge of the town were revealed.

By Juliette Maxam

THE troubled search for a new traveller's site for Colchester moved a step closer last night when three shortlisted locations on the edge of the town were revealed.

But all three potential locations are the same as those selected last year just before the quest for a new travellers' site collapsed.

The shortlist, once again, is land west of Severall's Lane; land off Ipswich Road, on the Ardleigh/Langham border; and land east of Severall's Lane.

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The three locations have been highlighted by consultants appointed by Colchester Borough Council as most suitable for a travellers' site.

Last night Colchester Borough Council agreed to put each location out to public consultation, starting today , with the aim of making a final selection at a cabinet meeting in September - exactly a year after they were last scheduled to select a site.

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And residents living near the shortlisted sites immediately vowed again to fight plans for a travellers' site on their doorsteps.

Farmers Robin and Stuart Gooding, father and son, own a farm and industrial estate on half of the old Boxted Airfield, which neighbours two of the shortlisted sites - east of Severall's Lane and Ipswich Road.

The pair, who took part in all meetings about the issue last year, claim they already have trouble with travellers on their land.

Mr Gooding junior said: "We are going to be against it. If the council's not legally obliged to provide a site, why provide one?"

He added: "It's unlikely to have a positive effect. We have had an illegal site before near us and that was not nice."

The cabinet meeting last night is the latest stage in the council's long-running attempt to find a replacement for the council's now-closed travellers' site at the Hythe, which is prime regeneration land.

Last year, the council appointed consultants CDN Planning to prepare criteria for selection potential locations and to draw up a shortlist, after the council's own attempts to find a new site collapsed in 2002.

The search was scuppered last year when the council's overview and scrutiny panel objected to the selection procedure.

The council told CDN to scrap the evaluation process and start again following additional criteria, which resulted in the report considered last night.

This time around, the identities of the possible locations were kept secret until the cabinet members had made their decision, which was based entirely on the criteria point scoring system.

Council leader Colin Sykes urged the public: "If you do have an interest in any of the sites, please do write into the council or e-mail to the council. CDN will receive notification of every single correspondence the council is sent on this matter."

There will be three weeks of formal consultation, from June 21 to July 9, with CDN making a final recommendation on August 9, which the cabinet will consider in September.

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