South Leeds: Pickles blocks Morley traveller site growth

The Cottingley Springs site
The Cottingley Springs site
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LOCAL Government Secretary Eric Pickles has blocked proposals to expand the Cottingley Springs gypsy and traveller site.

A planning application was made to add 12 pitches to the existing site which occupies land off Gelderd Road, in Morley.

Mr Pickles last year exercised his right to consider the application rather than leaving it to the local council.

A report prepared for the Local Government Secretary by a planning inspector recommended the application should be refused and today it was confirmed Mr Pickles has agreed and blocked the plan.

The planning inspector raised concerns that allowing the application would damage the green belt and “have a substantial visual impact on the wider landscape”.

The inspector also said Leeds City Council had failed to demonstrate conclusively that no alternative sites are available and suitable.

Her report followed a public inquiry held in July and August last year.

Social housing provider Yorkshire Housing made the application to expand the Cottingley Springs site in partnership with Leeds City Council.

Coun Peter Gruen, executive member for neighbourhoods, planning and personnel, said: “Today’s decision is extremely disappointing, particularly in light of the scope and level of work we’ve put into finding a suitable site. The local community has been left in limbo for almost a year whilst a decision that should be made locally is taken out of our hands.

“Our work with the travelling community has been applauded as national best practice. We must find short and long-term practical solutions to meet the needs of our local communities as well as travellers themselves to break the cycle of encampment and eviction.

“While we’re not afraid of a challenge, decisions like this make our work needlessly harder. The challenge doesn’t stop now and working with the core strategy and through the site allocations process, we need both public and private sites to come forward. We’ll consider all options for public sites and ask landowners to weigh up if their sites are suitable for this use.”