Plan for traveller pitches on eyesore site set for refusal

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PLANS for a small travellers’ caravan site on a piece of Leeds wasteland are expected to be thrown out by councillors - despite the city having an acknowledged “shortfall” of facilities.

The land in Sandon Mount, Hunslet - which would house just two traveller families if the plan was approved - is an abandoned allotment plot which is overgrown and has become a dumping ground for rubbish. The site backs onto the M621 and sits on the edge of a new housing development.

Planning chiefs are set to debate the application at a meeting at Leeds Civic Hall next week. There have been 51 objection letters from locals.

A planning inspector recently decided the city needed 62 more permanent traveller pitches to meet demand.

In a preview report recommending refusal, council officers acknowledge that there is a need for new traveller pitches in the city and say the council “is seeking to remedy part of this shortfall by bringing forward new sites at Cottingley Springs and Kidacre Street”. However the report says the application in question is “premature” because, according to developing planning policy, “surpluses and deficiencies in allotments and green spaces” need to be evaluated before a decision. It adds that “potential noise impacts on the residents from the adjoining M621” should also be a factor.

Councillor Peter Gruen, the council’s cabinet spokesman for planning, said every application “is judged entirely on its own merits” and decisions are made “on a case by case basis”.

Speaking earlier this year on the issue, Coun Gruen admitted there is “never going to be a perfect solution which fully meets everyone’s needs”, but he stressed the council is working hard to combat the spate of recent unlawful encampments elsewhere in the city, which have often resulted in huge legal and clean-up costs.

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