Travellers site ‘not a done deal’
Report by Bob Horrocks
Brookmans Park Ward councillor, Stephen Boulton, who chairs the council’s Planning Control Committee, said Welwyn Hatfield Council had officially accepted the report recommending the site, but said it "was not a done deal because the Bulls Lane site seems not to meet the criteria."
Chris Conway, Welwyn Hatfield’s Chief Planning Officer, told the meeting that the process of deciding on the most appropriate site has only just begun.
The meeting was called by the local MP, Grant Shapps, who told those attending that a lot of misinformation about the issue had been circulated prior to the recent Welham Green by-election. He said the aim of the meeting, held at the North Mymms Youth and Community Centre, was to give the facts. Chris Conway offered the technical details and Grant Shapps added his political angle to the debate.
Central Government requires all local authorities to provide more pitches for travellers and the EERA proposals were due to progress to the next stage within two weeks.
This EEP covered the period up to 2021 but travellers pitches figures were only up to 2011. This was just one example of conflicting policies which was making it difficult for planners.
Another was that in the last few weeks, planners had been told to limit the size of any one new camp to 10 pitches instead of 15.
The EEP requires Welwyn Hatfield to provide another 17 pitches by 2011 – one pitch equals one family with one or two caravans.
Consultants had produced a report recommending just one site, on the south side of Bulls Lane, opposite White Lodge Farm.
Chris Conway said there will be a series of consultations, public inquiries and reports over the next two or three years. Decisions on sites for both new housing and travellers sites are unlikely to be taken before 2010.
Representatives of the North Mymms Green Belt Society said that, as with the consultations over the last three years on the East of England Plan, the society would most likely hold meetings and offer suggested responses to each of these consultations. Grant Shapps, Welwyn Hatfield councillors and parish councillors said they could be contacted if anyone had queries.
Note: The author, Bob Horrocks, is a parish councillor and secretary of the North Mymms Green Belt Society.
Sites such as Your Rights and Traveller Law Reform Project, set out the rights of the travelling community. You can discuss the issue in this site’s forum. Registered users can join the debate. Registration for the forum is free-of-charge.
19 January 2008
Travellers site public meeting - 3 January 2008
Travellers site proposal considered - 30 September 2007
Travellers site identified - 18 September 2007