Parish council strongly opposed to 'shocking' plans for expanded traveller's site at Heath Common in Wakefield

Plans to expand a gypsy and traveller's site have received their most stinging public criticism to date.

Thursday, 4th February 2021, 4:45 pm

Heath Common in Wakefield could be expanded to 61 permanent pitches from its current number of 38, with a new access road potentially built around the site.

The scheme, which is subject to planning permission being approved, would cost local taxpayers about £6m.

Wakefield Council has acknowledged it will have to renegotiate a covenant which protects the green belt site in question as common land.

A view of Heath Common, from the edge of Doncaster Road. The site is the largest public traveller encampment in the Wakefield district.

Now Warmfield-cum-Heath Parish Council has come out against to the plans, saying it would be "impossible to replace this cherished piece of the Wakefield landscape".

A statement issued this week said: "Following consultation with local parishioners and residents of the existing Heath Travellers' site, Warmfield-cum-Heath Parish Council is strongly opposed to the planned additional travellers’ site in Heath.

"The proposed site is common land, in green belt, and widely visible from many places in the conservation area of Heath.

"The development would also contravene a restrictive covenant attached to the land, stating that it must remain as common land.

"The area was saved from the Inclosure Act in 1845 with the help of Charles Waterton, and it has been enjoyed by so many as a green space ever since.

"It is shocking that Wakefield Council is planning to build a second site on Heath Common."

Discussing the scheme last month, Wakefield Council leader Denise Jeffery said the move was necessary to help meet demand for traveller pitches.

Local authorities are legally obliged to accommodate people from the travelling community.

Other ideas, including the building of a new 23-pitch site elsewhere in the district have been ruled out.

A planning application for the expansion has yet to be submitted.

Local Democracy Reporting Service