Fury at suggested green light for traveller plan

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Residents in two villages are furious that planners look ready to flout government legislation and allow more travellers to settle in Billington’s Green Belt.

On Wednesday a plan goes before the Central Beds Council development management committee for permission to allow a family to live on a site next to a repair/workshop on land adjacent to Toddbury Farm, Little Billington.

The parish of Billington, backed by neighbours Slapton, has protested furiously that repeated planning applications have been approved that boost the size of existing sites in the village.

But since those assurances were given CBC has come under pressure from the government to provide more pitches in the district. The authority has given the green light to a number of windfall applications where travellers want to put more pitches on existing sites.

Officers at the DMC are recommending approval for a change of use of the land in Slapton Road, to a mixed use of a vehicle repair workshop and sales, and a residential caravan site for one family.

Councillors will be asked to overrule the government’s own policies on where to put gypsy/ travellers sites which state that they must not go in the Green Belt.

Outline permission for the business, to mend and repair caravans, was given last year but hasn’t started operation.

Billington Parish Council has logged its strong objections arguing that the land is next to Toddbury Farm and thereby constitutes a new site despite Billington not being included in the council’s emerging gipsy and traveller plan earmarking new sites in the district.

They also see the scheme as a way of increasing residential numbers in the area.

In a letter to the council they state: “ To allow a new site would be seen as a further betrayal of the trust we have sought to build up with CBC over the years.

“CBC has used the government’s requirement to provide official sites for an agreed number of travellers as an excuse to go back on their commitment to Billington not to increase the number of travellers in the parish.”