24 June 2014

Plans for Permanent Traveller site to go ahead

Plans for a permanent Traveller site which have been approved by the South Downs National Park Authority will now not be called in by the Secretary of State.

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

The SDNPA undertook a full public consultation before making the decision in February 2014.

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 plans 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: “I am relieved the Secretary of State has stopped thinking about calling this in, so we can now get on with building these much needed additional traveller pitches.

The impact unauthorised encampments on the city’s open spaces has on local communities cannot be underestimated coupled with the expense of eviction. The permanent site will help ease this issue and 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.”

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 secure tenancy that will, like all social housing, ensure that any anti-social behaviour will not be  

More information

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.  A video showing the visual impact of the existing and proposed traveller site is available.