New gypsy site is approved

Woldgate Bridlington''Entrance to the Gypsey Site
Woldgate Bridlington''Entrance to the Gypsey Site

AFTER a four year wait, Bridlington’s gypsy community can now look forward to moving onto a new £1.4million site after plans were approved by the council.

Designs for the 22-pitch site were approved by East Riding of Yorkshire Council planners last Thursday and it will replace the existing one on Woldgate which has been deemed unfit for purpose.

Work on the new site should start late this spring and is expected to be finished by early 2012.

Initially the plans were met with fierce local opposition so an extension was made to the consultation period, but only 31 people attended the final exhibition of the plans at West Hill in early February and not all were against the proposals.

Ward councillor Chad Chadwick, who had previously asked the council to extend the consultation period, said that there were no new objectors to the plans as a result of the extra consultation.

He said: “The thing to be clear about is that the council has to provide a new site, the existing one is in a terrible state and we have secured this funding for the sole purpose of building a new site - it cannot be used for anything else.

“The cost of refurbishing the site would have been something like four-times the grant money we have got from the government.”

Coun Chadwick added that after listening to local residents’ views, he had asked planning officers to strengthen the screening around the site.

He said: “As it was, the screening around the boundary was a bit thin and I think the site would have been visible to people driving on the main road, so I asked that as a condition of planning, officers should work with the conservation and landscaping department to put more green screening around the site.

“This will help it to better blend into the surrounding countryside.”

Approval for the development has been given at the end of a long process which began in 2007 when initial plans to build a new site on Grindale Lane were thrown out.

For Lindsey Jones, of the Lottery-funded Hidden Voices Project for travellers’ rights, the new site is welcome news.

She said: “When I started with Hidden Voices, it was September of 2007 and the council had secured the money in the summer of that year.

“By the time work starts on the new site this spring, it will have been four years since the process started,

“The council has a duty of care to the traveller and gypsy community and I would like to say well done to them for securing the funding in the first place and for following it through.

“It would have been easy for them to drop it because these things are never popular, but if they had done that, they would’ve lost the money and then they would have had to find it themselves at a later date because the Woldgate site was always going to need replacing.

“I’d also like to say well done and thank you to the local councillors because it is hard to support schemes that are never going to be vote winners, but I’m glad we got there in the end.”

The £1.4million development will include four more pitches than the existing site, plus a wardens block, a five-space car park and 11 single storey amenity blocks housing bathroom and kitchen facilities.

The site will be lit by low level bollards and will be excavated into the existing slope of the field to be surrounded by embankments and a boundary fence up to two metres high.

It will be located close to the existing site, which will be demolished and landscaped, so it maintains the existing links into the town and access to local facilities already used by the gypsy and traveller community.