Villagers fight to block new gypsy site in Hurst

Villagers fight to block new gypsy site in Hurst

Daniel Darlington

Villagers fight to block new gypsy site in Hurst

Concerned villagers in Hurst are planning to fight tooth and nail to block plans for another small gypsy site on their doorstep.

Plans for two new permanent travellers’ pitches, together with hard standing for vehicles, a utility room and day room just off Nelsons Lane, have been lodged by Green Planning Solutions Ltd.

Neighbours say the site will lead to the 'urbanisation' of the area, and worry it will get the go-ahead as the council seeks to meet its central government quota for travellers' pitches.

Cllr Keith Baker, Gypsy Roma traveller liaison for Wokingham Borough Council (WBC), said the council was in the process of conducting a 'traveller needs assessment' to find out whether new pitches are needed in the borough.

A decision on the Hurst site will be taken once that is completed later this year.

He said: "We are nowhere near this going to committee yet. The needs assessment may mean we can refuse new applications because we have already met our need.

"There is plenty of work to be done first and there will also need to be an environmental risk assessment by the Environment Agency."

The plans come months after a Government planning inspector approved an appeal for caravans, stable and day room for one family in nearby Islandstone Lane.

Approval was given despite WBC twice refusing the application and concerns the land was liable to flooding.

Annette Drake, former borough councillor for Hurst, said: "People are very, very upset, especially after having lost their appeal against Islandstone Lane so recently."

Villagers have sent several letters to WBC objecting to the 'harmful visual impact' of the site, noise and air pollution, litter, the increased threat of flooding, and traffic on narrow village lanes.

They have also sought clarity over how many people would be living on the site.

Green Planning Solutions Ltd was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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