Plans for gypsy site in Walton

Councillors Maureen Cummings and Albert Manifield are fighting proposals for a gypsy site on land between The Grove and The Balk in Walton
Councillors Maureen Cummings and Albert Manifield are fighting proposals for a gypsy site on land between The Grove and The Balk in Walton

OUTRAGED villagers say they are being ‘blackmailed’ with plans to build a travellers’ campsite after rejecting proposals for a care home on the same site.

Hundreds of people packed into Walton Village Hall on Tuesday to contest plans for a site of 18 pitches to be developed on land between The Grove and The Balk.

The proposal was announced last month, after the refusal of a proposed 250-capacity care home on the same plot last year.

But members of Walton Parish Council announced at Tuesday’s meeting that a revised 129-capacity care home plan had since been suggested.

Protestors shouted out that they felt they were being “blackmailed”.

Speaking at the meeting, Coun Maureen Cummings slammed the travellers’ site plan as a “threat”.

She said: “The people of this village have already decided that they didn’t want anything on that land.

“Isn’t it funny that once the care home plan was turned down this came up? To my mind all it is is a threat.”

Mark Blount, of new opposition group Walton Action, said a travellers’ site would not be appropriate in a “tight-knit” village which did not have the amenities to support it.

Access to the new campsite would run past Walton Primary School, on The Grove.

Resident David Whitney said it could put children’s safety at risk. He said: “There will be wagons carrying loads using that road constantly. It is just bad planning.”

Matthew Green, of Green Planning Solutions, has represented travellers in the development of other sites across the country.

He said he was looking to submit a planning application within the next few weeks.

But Mr Green said he would not comment on residents’ concerns until after a public consultation, which will take place at Walton Village Hall on Tuesday from 6.30pm.

He said: “People always object to Gypsy sites because they are Gypsy sites. That is irrelevant.

“If planning issues are raised on Tuesday then we will look to alter the design before it is submitted.”

A spokesman for Hanover Developments (Leeds) Ltd, who own the land, said the revised care home scheme was offered by Townsend Planning Consultants in January but was given little support at the time.

He said: “The parish council has approached the owners’ agents with a view to them resurrecting the proposal put forward in January and that possibility is now being considered.”