Farmers anger at plans for permanent travellers site on Sunderland border

SITE BID ... West Pastures, West Boldon.
SITE BID ... West Pastures, West Boldon.
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FARMOWNERS have hit out over plans for a permanent gypsy site.

Planners are recommending the go-ahead for the travellers site at West Pastures, off Newcastle Road, West Boldon – together with the building of 11 four-metre high brick buildings to be used for kitchen and bathroom facilities, storage and general living space.

At the moment, the area is only a temporary travellers’ site, but if, as recommended, members of South Tyneside Council’s planning committee give the application the go-ahead next month, it will be classed as permanent.

But farmowners, including Scott’s House Farm, Northmoor Farm, Strother House Farm and West Moor Farm, object to building on green belt agricultural land and claim the land “has been a mess” ever since it has been used by travellers.

But Alison Heine, a Cheshire-based planning consultant representing the travellers, heaped praise on the council for pushing ahead with the plan.

She said: “As far as I’m aware, South Tyneside Council is the only local authority out of 300 to have allocated a site in their local development plan. This has been achieved at no cost to the public purse and the public should be so proud of what their planners have achieved. They’ve been saved a lot of hassle and expense.”

Following a public inquiry, temporary planning permission for the site was granted in March 2008 for a three-year period, which expired in March 2011.

It has since been identified as a “suitable site for gypsy/traveller development” in the council’s development plan.

A report to the committee says: “Since 2007, a need to find a gypsy and traveller caravan site within the borough has been demonstrated and, following a detailed site search, the proposed site accords with Local Development Framework policy, and it is considered there are no harmful impacts that would otherwise warrant refusal of the application.”

A South Tyneside Council spokesman said: “All councils have a legal requirement to provide for the local accommodation needs of the gypsy and traveller community. The various issues and objections in connection with the application will be considered at the forthcoming meeting.”