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Decision made over traveller sites

07/01/2013

A DECISION has been made over proposals for new authorised Gypsy and Traveller sites in Leicester.

Three proposed sites in the north of the city were put forward as part of an extensive consultation early in 2012, as part of work to tackle the problem of unauthorised encampments in the city.

Today it has been announced that two out of the three proposed sites will be taken forward - planning applications will now be prepared for a permanent site of up to 10 pitches at Red Hill Way, and for a permanent site of up to six pitches at Greengate Lane, which is smaller than first proposed.

The third site, at Beaumont Way, has now been ruled out as unsuitable.

In addition to the two permanent sites, the city council will also explore the possibility of creating two additional sites at Hoods Close, near Beaumont Leys, and Ratby Lane. More investigations will be now be done into the potential feasibility of these two sites.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: "This has been a very hard decision which was never going to be popular but the council has for years put off tackling the issue of unauthorised encampments across the city, which have numbered more than 115 between January 2009 and September 2012.

"We've looked long and hard at the issues people have raised - for example we've agreed to limit the size of the Greengate Lane site to minimise the impact on nearby residents. We're also not planning to allow these sites to expand beyond the planned number of pitches.

"It is no longer enough for us to do nothing, and the extra pitches offered by these sites should be a step towards us getting on top of the problem of unauthorised encampments.

"Over the next three months I also want to further discussions with the county and district councils to ensure they are playing their part, as well as looking again at the potential offered by privately-owned sites across the city which might be capable of providing small developments.

"I also want members of the travelling community to be involved in discussions about how they could help develop and manage sites."

Planning applications are due to be submitted for the Greengate Lane and Red Hill Way sites by spring 2013.

The council's Planning and Development Control Committee - a separate function from the City Mayor and Executive - will still need to make the final decision on whether to grant planning permission for the sites.

Greengate Lane and Red Hill Way were decided upon after extensive investigations into the suitability of nearly 350 possible sites across the city.

The public consultation ran from February to July 2012, during which time more than 1,500 people gave their views online, by letter or by email, in addition to the hundreds of people who attended public meetings on the proposals.

Details of the consultation and background information can be found at:

www.leicester.gov.uk/gypsyandtravellersites

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