Wickhambrook: Residents will fight travellers’ site plans

CAMPAIGNERS in a quiet Suffolk village are vowing to fight plans to extend a nearby traveller site.

Residents in Wickhambrook have launched a committee to protest at a scheme by St Edmundsbury Borough Council to develop a Gypsy site at Kelly’s Meadow in nearby Depden.

Villagers have been campaigning to quash the bid to extend the site, which is currently occupied by the Goodey family, to hold 10 caravans.

The site currently has seven caravans but more are needed to accommodate members of the Goodey family, one of whom needs support due to serious ill health, who are being evicted from their current site due to overcrowding. As well as two amenity buildings with bathrooms, toilets and a kitchen area, the borough council wants to add hard-standings for caravans and car parking.

After lengthy wrangles, objectors plan to attend a meeting of the borough council’s Development Control Committee on Thursday where the plans are set to be approved.

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Clive Pollington, chairman of the Kelly’s Meadow Steering Committee, said: “We have got to fight this.

“They just seem to be throwing money at it.

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“It is just dangerous.”

Concerns have been raised over the safety of access to the site, which opens directly on to the A143 road.

Residents have also raised issues with the appearance of the proposed development as well as its distance from village amenities.

Around 60 letters have been received by the borough council, objecting to the scheme yet planning chiefs have recommended the controversial scheme be approved.

Jeff Claydon, chairman of Wickhambrook Parish Council, said: “We are not happy in the village about what they are trying to do.

“People don’t have an issue with the people who live there now but they are concerned about the development of the site.

“It seems rather perverse they are pushing ahead with these plans now.

“It seems quite unfair to spend that kind of money in the current financial climate. It’s quite irresponsible, really.”

A revision to the East of England Plan in 2009 stated there was a need for 20 extra pitches for Gypsies and travellers within St Edmundsbury between 2006-2011.

The regional plan has now been scrapped but it still forms part of the borough council’s Development Plan.

In a report to go before the committee next week, planning chiefs state the borough still needs to provide an extra 17 pitches between 2011 and 2021.

“The proposal would improve the facilities on the site for the existing residents and provide accommodation to allow a number of additional family members to reside on the site,” it states.

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