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Gypsy site plans to go ahead despite last-minute objection
COUNCILLORS will press ahead with controversial plans to effectively double the size of a Gypsy site on the outskirts of Darlington, despite a last-minute attempt to derail the proposal.
Members of Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet this week agreed to use a £1.8million grant from a Government agency to provide 20 new pitches in Neasham Road.
There is already a traveller site in Neasham Road and this new development will see the construction of a separate compound immediately adjoining the existing one.
At Tuesday’s (December 3) meeting, developer Frank Maguire told members he had acquired another site, in Heron Drive, which he argued would be more suitable.
Councillor Ian Haszeldine told Mr Maguire that the site is ‘contaminated land’ and had been earmarked for a 53-home development.
Director of place Richard Alty told members that Mr Maguire’s comments should not have an impact on their deliberations over the Neasham Road development, given the identified need to provide extra gypsy and traveller pitches across the borough.
Mr Alty said Mr Maguire’s proposals would need to be discussed separately.
A report prepared for members said the development would be funded using the grant from the Homes and Communities Agency.
The council has made a commitment to provide 35 extra Gypsy and traveller pitches by 2016.
This development, which is expected to be completed by early 2015, will go a long way towards achieving that target.
The report refers to ‘cultural differences’ between the Gypsy and traveller community and residents living close to the Neasham Road site.
Gypsy and traveller accommodation has long been a hot topic for discussion in Darlington.
That discussion intensified last year, when the council announced consultation on proposals to extend existing sites, or create new ones, at a variety of locations across the borough, in response to Government targets for Gypsy sites.
None of the £1.8million grant will be used to improve the existing site, said the report, although it would benefit from shared infrastructure created to serve the new site, such as an access road and new electricity sub-station.
Councillor Chris McEwan, cabinet member for economy and regeneration, said: “This report outlines the outcome of a feasibility study in relation to Gypsy and traveller sites.
“This has been a long-standing issue, with much consultation and cabinet will recall we were successful in relation to funding in respect of Honeypot Lane and/or Neasham Road.
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