SMDC policies on Gypsy and traveller sites
Click here to read the SMDC "Gypsy and traveller issues and options consultation document"
For anyone that doesn't have time to read through the entire document there are a few points that should raise immidiate concern and therefore you need to be aware of, in particular - Option 1 "Identify zones of search" would appear to the be 'Preferred solution'.
Notes on Option 1 - Integrate a Gypsy site within existing urban settlements, and within 2 miles of a primary school and heath care.
5.4 In theory, there is no ‘outer limit’ to a ‘Zone of Search’, although it must be recognised that the more remote a location from a settlement and its facilities, the less likely it can be considered “sustainable” in transport terms. For example, typical “walkable distances” (especially from the point of view of children) would be critical in this respect. It is suggested that any site should be no more than 2 miles walking distance from a primary school (this being the statutory walking distance for primary aged children).
5.5 It is recognised that as future permanent pitch requirements are likely to increase (organically) over the longer term, the ability of such a site to be sensitively extended is a consideration.
5.6 Advantages of Option 1 - The obvious advantage of this approach is that locations would be determined against the principles of sustainability, and thus in accord with recent national guidance, in the same way as other land uses. In particular, proximity to health and education facilities (based on recent evidence of existence of these facilities used to inform the ‘Preferred Options’ of the Core Strategy) is an important consideration. A further advantage is that since the approach is not based on divorcing or isolating gypsies from the wider community, (in line with Government guidance) it promotes social inclusion. Arguably, this approach best reflects the emerging Core Strategy Policy H3, Circular 01/06, etc. See para 5.1 above
Notes on Option 3 - although this is not the preferred option, at this time, the words "future expansion" are referred to several times in the document, examples shown below. The possibility of any future expansion to any new site would result in massive uncertainty for any community in the vicinity of a traveller site, so if option 1 is decided upon, then option 3 may be used at a later date if and when the sites become over-subscribed.
5.8 This would encompass selecting a site primarily because it has no immediate neighbours ie. in a countryside setting. Site selection would also be informed by proximity to transport links, and the unauthorised encampment records already explained in this note. Necessarily there would be trade-offs between desire for a remote location, against the proximity to beneficial facilities (eg health/education/shops). As per option 1, such sites could be designed so as to be expanded incrementally, to accommodate future (permanent and/or transit) pitch requirements, should the need arise.
5.13 Disadvantages of Option 3 - Of the three sites, only one lies within a development boundary (the other two are in the countryside). The expansion of all three would involve countryside encroachment. The first [Dilhorne] is surrounded by woodland, in the greenbelt and SLA, in a remote location away from facilities/services. The second [Biddulph] lies in the greenbelt and is very close to the conurbation – therefore expansion would raise not only greenbelt loss concerns, but may be deemed to interfere with the separate gypsy/traveller site provision suggested by the GTAA with reference to the Stoke conurbation. The third [Cheadle] could only be expanded into SLA. In the case of the generic park home sites, proposed expansion may also raise amenity concerns. It may also be the case that family groupings/ethnicities of existing/new gypsies/travellers may vary, which could conceivably create tensions. A further disadvantage is the fact that all three sites are privately, not publically, owned, therefore the decision as to whom to allow to occupy future pitches may not meet GTAA need; additionally future expansion would require landowner agreement/compulsory purchase.