Further calls to accommodate travellers in South Ribble

The public inquiry at Chorley Town Hall
The public inquiry at Chorley Town Hall

As demand for a travellers’ site heats up in neighbouring Chorley, further calls have been made to provide similar spaces in South Ribble.

A public enquiry is currently taking place in Chorley after the council was made to chose a site to accommodate gypsies and travellers.

A family of Romany Gypsies moved into land off Hut Lane, Charnock Richard, a number of years ago, but the group will be told to move to a more suitable site once a space is chosen.

They currently live on their own land with temporary planning permission from the council.

The council has allocated land at Cowling Farm, Chorley, for them to move to permanently, and a public inquiry was held last week as planning inspector Susan Heywood listened to representations from members of the public.

During the hearing, Inspector Heywood said: “This [Cowling] site allows potential growth for the families.

“However, other traveller families would need to be accommodated at a further site.”

Michael Hargreaves, representing the Linfoot family which currently resides in Hut Lane, said: “In my experience, the issues of further allocations needs to be addressed in the future development plans.

“And I would encourage South Ribble to make provisions for traveller sites too, as I think they are important.”

South Ribble Council had been reluctant to set aside sites for travelling communities in its future housing plans, but Inspector Heywood has raised concerns over the lack of evidence to support this ruling.

After she visited Leyland in March last year for the Local Development Framework planning hearings, she told the council its arguments for preventing gypsies and travellers from settling in the area were outdated.

She concluded that South Ribble Council needed to work with Chorley and Preston to create an up-to-date Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA).

A public consultation was launched in April, and the findings will be sent to the inspector for consideration.

South Ribble Council’s cabinet member for strategic planning and housing has this week said the council is still working on the assessment.

Coun Cliff Hughes said: “We are currently awaiting the results of our accommodation needs assessment for Gypsy and Travellers and Travelling Show People.

“Once this work has been finalised we will then know if there is a need for transit and or permanent sites within our borough.

“We are carrying out this work on a Central Lancashire basis due to the connections across the council boundaries and the previous planning policy work we have carried out with both Preston Council and Chorley Council.

“Once we know the outcome we will then be able to move forward with the preparation of a planning policy document which focuses on Gypsy and Traveller and Travelling Show People accommodation.

“Public consultation will take place on the document at each stage of the process, however preparation of this document can not start until we have the assessment results.

“Chorley had a more urgent need to allocate a site due to previous planning appeals and that is why they have moved forward sooner.”

Chorley Council is now awaiting feedback from the inspector about the Cowling Farm site.