23 September 2013

Plans submitted for permanent Traveller site

A planning application for a permanent Traveller site has been submitted to the South Downs National Park Authority

Plans for the site, adjacent to the recently re-opened traveller transit site at Horsdean, have been drawn up by Brighton & Hove City Council

Once the plans have been checked and advertised, the SDNPA will launch a full public consultation before making a decision.

Horsdean was chosen following an extensive selection process which explored 50 possible locations. The proposal is to create a permanent traveller site by extending the existing transit site on the former Horsdean Recreation Ground, which was cut off with the building of the A27

The plans show 12 new permanent pitches alongside 21 retained transit pitches.  Each permanent pitch will consist of space for a static caravan and other vehicles, plus a kitchen, bathroom and dayroom in an amenity block.

The proposals will also see the Traveller Liaison Team move to a management building on site, to ensure closer and better working with the community and to reduce management costs.

Councillor Pete West, chair of Brighton & Hove City Council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “We have worked with landscape advisors who are specialists in the national park to prepare a scheme that not only minimises the visual appearance of the new site through using the location at the bottom of the valley and by screening with new planting. It also reduces the visual impact of the existing transit site, so offering benefits to the national park setting. “

The site will be aimed at Travellers with a local link, many who already regularly occupy spaces on the transit site.  This should increase the council’s capacity to deal with unauthorised encampments, although the permanent Traveller site will not provide a complete solution.

Tenants will have to sign a lease that will, like all social housing, ensure that any anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated.  All residents will pay rent and be responsible for bills and council tax like all other council tenants.

Cllr West added: “As a section of society, Travellers suffer some of the worst levels of inequality; The addition of a permanent Traveller site at Horsdean will give greater stability for travelling families and strengthen existing links with the local community that already exist with the transit site. By adding pitch capacity it will also reduce the likelihood of unauthorized encampments.”

 

Notes for editors

Brighton & Hove City Council has identified a need for 14 to 16 permanent traveller pitches in the period up to 2016.  If the council cannot show it is properly planning and working to meet that demand, then the City Plan will be at risk of being considered unsound when it is examined in public.

The transit sites provide short term pitches for Travellers to stop for up to three months while they are visiting an area for work, family matters or a holiday.  The permanent site will provide long term secure residential pitches for either caravans or mobile homes. Travellers pay rent and council tax

Although Horsdean is a transit site, some pitches are currently occupied by Traveller households who are in need of permanent pitches.  The provision of a permanent site in Brighton & Hove would free up the blocked transit pitches for those visiting the city.

Horsdean is in a sensitive location for ground water and the council has given very detailed consideration to how to handle waste water from the pitches. Professional advisors at Hemsley Orrell Partnership have prepared a detailed plan and have consulted with the Environment Agency.  The proposal is that both the permanent and transit traveller sites will be linked up to the mains sewer.  This will involve directional drilling under the A27 to join with the mains sewer in Vale Avenue. This option represents a substantial cost saving compared to other options when ongoing costs are considered, whilst also ensuring no foul water enters the water course. Road run off will be comprehensively treated to ensure all oil is removed.

The South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA), decide all planning applications in the national park area.  SDNPA will first check that we have included all the information they need to make the decision before they then advertise the application and ask for comments.  This usually takes about two weeks, and once the consultation period is open the city council will help to publicise the application on line and through displays at local libraries.  This additional publicity will tell people how and where to submit their comments.

A video showing the visual impact of the existing and proposed traveller site is available at www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/horsdeansite