20 pitches earmarked for gypsies and travellers

TWENTY additional pitches for gypsies and other travellers are likely to be needed in Huntingdonshire by 2011. They would be in addition to the 20 pitches, with space for 36 caravans, on the Cambridgeshire County Council-owned site near the railway line a

TWENTY additional pitches for gypsies and other travellers are likely to be needed in Huntingdonshire by 2011.

They would be in addition to the 20 pitches, with space for 36 caravans, on the Cambridgeshire County Council-owned site near the railway line at St Neots. The site is managed by social landlord, the Luminus Group, which has plans to refurbish.

There are also 14 caravans on unauthorised sites, some of which have been granted temporary planning permission. If those consents were made permanent, they would count towards the additional 20 pitches the district is expected to need.

Compared with neighbouring districts, such as Fenland and South Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire is not attractive to travellers because it has neither the seasonal agricultural employment of Fenland nor the grazing and the ready markets for scrap metal in cities, Huntingdonshire District Council is set to tell the East of England Regional Assembly, which has identified a need for 1,220 additional pitches across its six counties.

HDC will tell EERA that it opposes transit sites for travellers because of the risks of non-payment of rent, vandalism, anti-social behaviour, complaints from neighbours and disputes.

It is also unwilling to make long-term plans for additional traveller facilities because of the likelihood that families will settle and their children will join permanent communities when their aspirations change with education.

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HDC is adamant that it should not be made to accept travelling families who would rather be living in neighbouring districts near families and friends already there. A previous policy of meeting housing need where there was space, rather than where it was needed, was a failed and discredited one, HDC says.

The council says gypsies and travellers often prefer to buy their own sites, but those who cannot afford to do so rely on social landlords such as Luminus to help in sustainable locations.