PEOPLE are being asked by Stratford-on-Avon District Council to come up with suggestions for gipsy sites.
But if the response is anything like that experienced by neighbouring Warwick, the council might find itself having to consider compulsory purchase.
All councils are required by law to meet the needs of gipsies and travellers. In the case of Stratford district this means providing 52 new permanent pitches in the period between 2011 and 2016.
But when Warwick District Council set about the task of finding gipsy sites, the results were not exactly encouraging.
A spokeswoman for Warwick District Council told the Herald: “We wrote to all those landowners and agents who had promoted land as part of our Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment exercise, all those we know of in the area and all statutory undertakers who may have land surplus to operational requirements.
"We advertised in the Travellers Times and on our website. We had two responses, neither of which we wrote to specifically and neither were suitable sites which are now in our preferred options.”
Cllr Andrew Mobbs (Cons, Kenilworth), the leader of Warwick District Council, said: “We want our local plan to be robust. We want our local plan to go to the Planning Inspectorate this year. Included in that we need to find 31 pitches for gipsies and travellers.
"We appreciate that many of these sites are used by specific families, and we need a number of sites rather than just one large site.”
"There is a recommendation regarding compulsory purchase orders,” said Cllr Mobbs. "But I must stress this is only a last resort."
He added: “Regrettably, in local authorities we have to make difficult decisions, but if we don’t provide an agreed local plan – in which gipsies and travellers form an integral part—we will damage our ability to control development in our district.”
Of the 52 pitches being sought by Stratford District Council by 2016, at least 25 of them should be available at affordable rents. Beyond 2016 an average of two pitches a year will be needed.
This means that a total of 82 permanent pitches will be required in the period to 2031. With eight pitches being granted permanent planning permission between September 2011 and December 2013, this leaves 74 pitches to identify.
Stratford District Council’s consultation process—including its “Call for Sites”—begins today (Friday) and ends at 5pm on Friday 28th March.
Council leader Cllr Chris Saint (Cons, Tredington), said: “Meeting the future accommodation needs of gipsies and travellers in Stratford district is a key issue for planning policy to address and is a requirement of national planning policy.
“It is something we have to do, whilst taking into account local views as far as is possible. The Planning Inspectorate will judge the soundness of our plan, so it is important for our residents to take this opportunity to tell us what they think the plan should cover.”
The consultation documents, including a summary leaflet and a “Call for Sites” form, can be viewed online at www.stratford.gov.uk/gandt
The council is stressing that this consultation is separate from the one being undertaken on potential changes to the core strategy currently running until 5pm on Friday 14th March.
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