A planning inspector will next month scrutinise proposals to increase the number of traveller and gyspy pitches in Leeds – and decide whether the council has been fair in its evaluation of the needs of the city’s “nomadic” communities.
Leeds City Council’s ‘core strategy’ on gypsy and traveller accommodation – ordered by the Government – will go under the microscope at Leeds Town Hall on Wednesday, October 16.
Extensive studies by the council have concluded that 40 more caravan pitches will be needed in the city over the next 15 years. The authority aims to provide 13 new pitches every five years.
According to council figures, there are 70 sites and plots already in use by travellers in Leeds. Of those, 41 are permanent pitches at Cottingley Springs, and there are 25 “tolerated” sites scattered across Burmantofts, Hunslet and Otley.
The planning inspector will consider whether the city’s assessment is up to date and whether the council has engaged sufficiently with traveller communities to prepare it.
They will also scrutinise the council’s five-year ‘deliverable sites’ plan and whether the authority has been fair in its evaluations, and its efforts to “facilitate the traditional and nomadic life of travellers while respecting the interests of the settled community”.
Speaking at a meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board, housing spokesman Councillor Peter Gruen said discussion about traveller sites was always “emotive” and “complicated”. But he said while it had previously been sidelined as “too difficult to deal with” the council had taken a pro-active approach.
Leeds City Council has already secured just over £1 million of funding from the Homes and Community Agency to develop 12 new pitches for gypsies and travellers.