Potential Gypsy Traveller sites unveiled by council
Twm Owen – Local Democracy Reporter
Two new potential Gypsy Traveller sites have been unveiled by Monmouthshire County Council which could approve a consultation on them next week.
The authority has to identify potential Gypsy Traveller sites in the replacement local development plan it is currently drawing up which sets out where new developments, for housing and employment, should be located across the county through to 2033.
The two new sites, which have been identified following a review of council owned land previously put forward for potential development, are at Bradbury Farm in Crick, near Caldicot and Oak Grove Farm also in Crick.
The village forms part of what the council has termed the Caldicot East preferred development site in the plan where up to 2,609 homes could be built by 2033.
A third site, previously identified, at Langley Close in Magor is also being put forward. A petition, signed by more than 1,200 people, was presented to the council last week calling for the site to be withdrawn due to “overdevelopment” in the area.
The council’s Labour-led cabinet is being recommended to approve opening a public consultation on the potential of each of the sites being suitable for up to six Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pitches when it meets for a special meeting on Wednesday, October 4. The cabinet will consider the results of the consultation and which sites could be included in the development plan.
The cabinet report also sets out that a renewed call for private land, that could be suitable for development for Gypsy Traveller sites, saw 17 pieces of land suggested for use.
A review of those ruled out nine sites on flooding risk following the same process which had been taken to assess council land and that also ruled out another site that was in a conservation area while inadequate information meant the council couldn’t pinpoint two other parcels of land, one was too small and another turned out not to be in Monmouthshire.
However three “suitable pieces of land” have been assessed and the council has written to the owners to ask if they would be interested in selling or leasing them to it.
They could then also be included in the consultation but the report says the council hasn’t yet had permission from the owners to disclose where they are.
The report also confirms that land at Dancing Hill in Undy will no longer be considered as a potential Gypsy Traveller site, as Councillor Paul Griffiths who is responsible for the development plan, told the full council’s September meeting.
So far 58 objections have also been received by the council to the Langley Close site and the report states they will “be automatically fed into the consultation process” if the cabinet agrees to start it.
The cabinet will also be asked to formally drop the two sites at Mitchel Troy common, Rocklea and Garthi Close, and Manson Heights in Monmouth as the former cabinet member Sara Burch had said she would in July after the council’s cross party scrutiny committee said those and the Langley Close site weren’t suitable and shouldn’t be taken forward.
It’s also proposed that the council should appoint a specialist and independent community engagement agency to run the public consultation and has invited a number of firms to submit proposals. The public consultation is likely to take at least six weeks and will cost the council around £10,000.
As well as looking at a potential of up to six sites the report says the council is still discussing with two households the possibility of them obtaining planning permission on private sites which “could significantly reduce the overall pitch requirement”.
The identified need was previously for 13 pitches but two have since been granted planning permission which has reduced the need to 11. The numbers were determined due to an unmet need, from 2020 to 2025, of nine pitches and a further four pitches through to 2033 to allow for the growth of the families as children become adults and require their own pitch.
If the cabinet agrees to consult on the sites the process would likely start on October 18 while the full council will be asked to approve the current preferred strategy for the local development plan on October 26.
A further public consultation on the council’s approved plan, which is known as the deposit, plan would then be held in spring next year and it is expected to be submitted to the Welsh Government in September 2024 and an independent examiner will consider if it meets national policies and can be approved for use.
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