D-day for gypsy site proposal on Leeds Wakefield border

The site of the proposed traveller camp.
The site of the proposed traveller camp.
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Controversial plans to create a permanent traveller camp on the Leeds-Wakefield border will go before a planning inspector this month.

Applicant Tom Spaven’s plan for a 10-pitch site on grazing land next to the M62 at Castle Gate, Stanley, was turned down by Wakefield Council’s planning and highways committee in February.

Residents and politicians sent in more than 1,200 objections to Wakefield Council’s planning department after more than 200 residents gathered at a joint community meeting to oppose the idea in March last year.

Despite the public outcry from residents living in the nearby villages of Carlton, Lofthouse, Ouzlewell Green and Stanley, planners initially recommended that the plans be approved to help meet the need for 16 more traveller pitches in Wakefield.

But the plans were then rejected, an appeal was lodged and now a final decision will be made at The Old Restaurant at Wakefield Town Hall, in Wood Street, on September 25 at 10am.

Vikki Stansfield, secretary of the Stanley Residents Group, told the YEP: “Nothing’s changed, we are still as a group against it – it’s still an inappropriate development on green belt land and we will be there representing the opposition.

“It’s not a case of us opposing it because it’s a Gypsy site, it’s because it is development.”

Ms Stansfield, who lives just 15 yards from the proposed camp, said ongoing work 
to the M62 means the camp would be just a matter of yards from the outside lane of the motorway.

Objectors have also raised concerns that the site could lead to an increased risk of crime, though the site’s owners moved to state a warden would be on site at all times, maintaining the area and liaising with the council and police, while tenants would be asked to leave if three complaints were made about them, and traffic and parking limitations would be imposed.

Coun Stewart Golton (Lib Dem, Rothwell) said: “The provision of traveller sites should be a consideration for local authorities and should not be decided by private individuals just because they own a bit of land.”

In 2009 there was an estimated shortfall of 86 traveller pitches in West Yorkshire.

Coun Jack Dunn (Lab, Ardsley and Robin Hood) said: “If this appeal was granted it would be an affront to the community.”

The landowner did not wish to comment on the appeal.

Visit planning.wakefield.gov.uk/online-applications and search 12/00208/FUL to view the plans.

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