Extra time given to listen to concerns on former Travellers' site

22 November 2012

Released on 14 November 2012

A meeting to debate the purchase and reopening of a former Travellers' site near Meldreth has been postponed by South Cambridgeshire District Council until January so there is more time to listen to residents' concerns.

Government funding for the purchase and refurbishment of the 8-10 pitch site has already been secured by Council housing chiefs, but a meeting of Full Council will be held to debate the purchase before any decision is made.

The Council's intention to purchase the site was published at the end of October and Cabinet members recommended that proposals should be presented to a meeting of Full Council to see if councillors believe it is the best option to meet the future needs of growing Traveller families currently living in South Cambridgeshire.

An independent report accepted by the Council in June established the need for 20 extra pitches in the district up until 2031 to meet the Council's legal obligation to provide sufficient housing for Travellers.

The proposal for purchasing the former Mettle Hill site near Meldreth was due to be presented to a Full Council meeting later this month, but in light of the number of concerns and questions being raised by residents the Chairman of the Council has decided to hold an extra Full Council meeting about the plans on Thursday 10 January at 6.30pm so there is more time for them to be considered.

Cllr Tony Orgee, Chairman of South Cambridgeshire District Council, said:

"The intention to purchase the site has raised a significant volume of questions and concerns from local residents and it is only right we give more time to consider all the views before any decisions are made by councillors. All items relating to this decision have been removed from the agenda for the Full Council meeting on 22 November and the separate meeting focussing solely on this matter will give the proper time needed to consider all the points."

If the proposals to purchase the site were agreed by councillors in January, Cabinet Members have already committed to holding a further consultation so the local community can have a say on the layout, design and future management of the site. This is to make sure it works well for future residents living there as well as their neighbours.

All public questions received by the Council for the meeting scheduled for next week will be deferred to January.

The Council also plans to purchase two existing Traveller sites in the district at Whaddon and Blackwell - a site off the A14 near Milton. Both sites are currently managed by South Cambridgeshire District Council. Financial approval for the purchase of these sites will also be deferred to the meeting in January.

Cllr Mark Howell, South Cambridgeshire District Council's cabinet member for housing, said:

"Plans for any new development frequently cause local concern, and as we have had so many people getting in touch with the Council about this proposal I fully support the Chairman's decision to give extra time so we can consider all the points of view before any decision is made. We have a legal obligation to look for new pitches to provide sufficient accommodation for growing Traveller families currently living in the district, but we have already made it clear we want to work with the local community to deliver a site that is well managed and of the highest quality."

Questions and answers that have frequently been asked since the intention to purchase the land was published will be posted on the Council's website later this week. Anyone wanting to comment on proposals can do so by emailing mettlehill@scambs.gov.uk. All comments will form part of the report being submitted to councillors in January.

Last Updated: 14 November 2012  08:33