Agenda item

Gypsy and Traveller Site Selection - To consider a proposal for assessing the suitability of Council owned land for the potential purpose of addressing the Council's statutory obligation, to meet the identified need for Gypsy and Traveller sites


Ian Bakewell presented the report, with additional comments from Mark Hand. Ian Bakewell and Mark Hand answered the members’ questions.


The Planning committee approved a Travellers’ site last month – has that been deducted off the 13? Is there any public consultation prior to the planning stage?

The site mentioned in relation to the Planning committee concerns a family that was not identified via the process of the Gypsy & Traveller Accommodation Assessment, in which the need for 13 sites was identified. Therefore, the number of families can change, and there will be a review in 2025. The number is also based on predictions about how families will grow by 2033. So, there’s some fluidity but it is the accepted and best process.

There will be a consultation as part of the process of site sifting, led by the Housing team, looking at which sites are shortlisted and how they might fit in with the LDP. The second stage is that they are included in the LDP, as a statutory process. There will be public consultation on that along with all the other aspects of the plan. The third stage is at planning application level. Once things are allocated in the plan it is an agreed council document so it would only be a case of finalising site specifics in more detail at that last stage.

13 pitches have been proposed, for 13 needed. Has there been any element of choice from the community itself?

As much flexibility is built in as possible – we don’t want a situation where we arbitrarily choose a site and tell the family. There is a relatively small number of families, so we know them and their needs well. It’s about trying to take in as much of that as we go along, so that when we get to the end of the process there are no surprises or disappointment. As we’re starting from scratch, there is the opportunity to involve the families in the development of sites.

The community will be involved, and Trudy Aspinall, the Lead for Travelling Ahead, will speak on their behalf?

Yes. Trudy asked that we state today that she’s happy to be involved and advocate, facilitating community engagement, but isn’t a direct representative.

What is the current situation of the families – how are they supported at the moment?

We can’t answer directly at this time. The families are independent, but we know they need access to particular health facilities, some of the children attend comprehensive school in Pontypool, one is working in the Usk area, etc. We would expect the families to feed back to us their situation and needs, for us to take into account. The important thing for us is to listen and respond accordingly.

In terms of the families’ physical situation, we have all of that information and can go through it in the first workshop e.g., if a family is currently overcrowded, they could be catered for by an extra caravan on the area that they already own, subject to planning. One particular issue is the area in Llancayo, which is unauthorised in terms of planning: planning was refused, the appeal was rejected, and it has gone through a court process. So those families have somewhere to live at the moment but it’s unauthorised; they need to stay there for now, but the purpose of this exercise is to find them somewhere that’s a suitable alternative. The Planning issue concerned flood risk; they are currently in safe accommodation, there is no immediate risk to anyone at present.

Chair’s Summary:

The committee agreed that this be added to the Forward Work Programme.


Supporting documents: