Villagers fend off plans for travellers site

Wakefield Planning Meeting....Gypsy site at Stanley'Protesters celebrate the decision
Wakefield Planning Meeting....Gypsy site at Stanley'Protesters celebrate the decision

Villagers have won their battle against plans to build a travellers campsite in Stanley.

Wakefield Council’s planning committee refused an application for a 10-pitch site on Castle Gate, which campaigners said was not appropriate for green belt land and would cause traffic hazards.

Officers had recommended the application for approval, saying it would help the council to meet targets of providing homes for travellers.

But Coun Jacqui Williams, who is on a newly-formed committee tasked with finding suitable sites for travellers in Wakefield, said residents feared crime and safety risks.

She said: “It’s not necessarily the people living there that would cause problems but travelling people from other areas who would see that the site is there. Children would be a yards away from a soon-to-be eight-lane motorway.

“The council would have no control over who lives there, charges made and the behaviour of the tenants. It’s only likely to encourage travellers from outside the district and therefore increase the need for sites in Wakefield.”

Elizabeth Spaven, representing the landowners, told the meeting that a warden would be on site to help resolve any problems and that people would be evicted if they caused any problems.

Mrs Spaven, a traveller herself, said: “We want to be part of the community and get along with people but also maintain our own culture and live the way we choose. We wouldn’t put children at risk.”

Planning officers said there was a shortfall of 16 travellers’ pitches in Wakefield.

Some councillors wanted the plan deferred until the council’s working group had made more progress identifying suitable suites, but the motion was outvoted.