New travellers’ site considered for Green Belt field.
A controversial plan to open new travellers’ sites in the district has included a field just yards from Leighton Rugby Club in Billington Road.
A preliminary long list was presented to Central Beds councillors at a stormy meeting on Thursday and it includes Green Belt land on the Leighton-Stanbridge border that faces a danger junction where a man died in a crash last year.
The site, one of 35 throughout the district (but the only one in the Leighton-Linslade area), has been chosen instead of an earlier option to include Black Barn, in Mentmore Road, Linslade, on the edge of Tiddenfoot Waterside Park. CBC’s sustainable communities overview and scrutiny committee, which faced a barrage of questions from angry residents, now plans public consultations and a more in-depth look at the list, to come up with a definitive plan for the future.
The council must provide 130 extra pitches throughout the district. The sites identified would carry no more than ten pitches and not all the land earmarked would be used. A shortlist will be revealed at the next scrutiny meeting on February 28.
Central Beds compiled the long list after a call for people to suggest sites last year failed to produce adequate numbers.
Councillor Nigel Young, in charge of sustainable communities, said: “No sites, no pitches – nothing – has been decided yet.
“We’re at the very beginning of a very considered process and these site suggestions are simply a list of areas that could be suitable for gipsy and traveller pitches.
“What is absolutely vital to remember is that we have a statutory duty to provide appropriate accommodation to this community, just as we do for other communities.
“We work hard to meet the needs of both the gipsy and traveller and the settled communities and we must be equal in addressing need.”
But news of the Billington Road ground, which is just yards from Wright’s Meadow, has angered Gordon Fletcher, chairman of Leighton Rugby Club, who says they have constantly been refused planning permission to improve infrastructure because of Green Belt restrictions.
He said: “From a development point of view we get 400-500 people here each Saturday and Sunday and a lot of people have to park on the grass verges in Leighton Road/Billington Road because we have parking spaces for about 150 cars.
“Outside the proposed site a driver died last year in a crash and the road is heavily used by commercial traffic. Allowing extra development on this road would be an accident waiting to happen.
“We were turned down ten years ago when we wanted to make improvements here because we’re in the Green Belt so it’s a bit galling that Central Beds can come along and now suggest a development in the same area.”
Lesley Hall, clerk to Stanbridge Parish Council, said members had been unaware that land in the parish was on a Central Beds list. She said: “The council is currently assessing potential gypsy and traveller sites in our region and the initial list drawn up includes a location West of Stanbridge. Stanbridge Parish Council is aware of the consultation process and time-frame and will be playing a proactive part in this. We will keep residents informed on a regular basis.”
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Weather for Leighton Buzzard
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 4 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 22 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 4 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west