Travellers’ plan causes outrage

Villagers have cried out over plans for up 50 vehicles to park at a travellers’ site close to Hockliffe.

The Hawthorns, off Leighton Road, has already been partially developed without planning permission, with one dwelling house built and two mobile homes.

Now, a retrospective application has been submitted to Central Beds seeking approval for the existing development – on green belt land and occupied since 2008 – as well as permission for a further residential unit with space for a maximum 50 cars to park.

It would be a fully dedicated site for travellers and showpeople, including fairground rides and other maintenance facilities – such as lorries, tractors, vans and cars.

The move has cause outrage to some villagers, who fear the encroachment on to open countryside.

One campaigner said: “This application is totally inappropriate and it will substantially alter the area. The land is green belt and should remain such.”

Cllr Alan Shadbolt said: “I have no problem with regularising what is there but I do have problems if they want to increase the site and have up to 50 cars on site.”

An online petition has now been launched by villagers against the proposal.

One of the signees posted: “It’s been proven that crime rates increase in areas that are populated by ‘travellers’ and I will sign anything that opposes their use of land in our area.”

But some angry residents apparently were not aware of the existence of the current site.

Cllr Shadbolt added: “There is a lot of opposition from Hockliffe residents mainly because they wrongly think it’s a new site.”

Although the area is situated on green belt land, agents Shrimplin C W & R C cite the need to allocate sites for travelling showpeople as part of the special circumstances to justify the scheme.

But campaigners pointed out it is not included on Central Beds’ list of preferred sites for travelling showpeople.

A decision is expected be reached by March 27.