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Councils call for potential traveller sites

Councils in south Worcestershire want to hear from anyone who knows of land that could be used to accommodate travellers and travelling showpeople.

There is a Government requirement for councils to identify locations that can be used to provide residential pitches for travellers. The existence of official sites can also improve the chances of councils winning planning appeals over applications for unsuitable sites being used to accommodate travellers.

The three councils – Malvern Hills, Worcester City and Wychavon – have issued a “call for sites”, asking individuals, agents, landowners and developers to come forward with locations that might be suitable for use by travellers over the next five to ten years.

Suggested sites will be rigorously assessed by the councils, which have to ensure they can meet the requirement in the South Worcestershire Development Plan (SWDP) for 35 new travellers’ pitches to be provided by 2018/19 and to ensure other locations are available in the following five years.

The most suitable sites will be included in a draft Site Allocations Development Plan that the councils are currently preparing. This new plan – which will be subject to public consultation - will identify land to meet the accommodation needs of travellers and travelling showpeople across south Worcestershire.

Full details of how to put forward a site are at www.swdevelopmentplan.org. The call for sites runs from today until January 9 2017.

Councillor Geoff Williams, who chairs the SWDP Joint Advisory Panel, said: “Government policy requires us to identify a supply of developable sites that can be used to accommodate travellers and travelling showpeople for at least the next ten years. By launching this call for sites we’re getting on the front foot to ensure south Worcestershire can meet its obligations to provide travellers’ pitches in sustainable locations. If we can’t identify sufficient sites to meet projected need, south

Worcestershire communities face the on-going risk of speculative planning applications for unsuitable sites going ahead, possibly as a result of planning appeal decisions.”

This latest call for sites follows a similar exercise in February 2015 that did not identify enough potentially suitable locations. More now have to be found to ensure the councils meet their obligations under national planning rules.