Mixed reactions to Kettering Council’s Traveller site decision

The proposed site in Crown Street, Kettering, has been discounted from consideration for Traveller pitches
The proposed site in Crown Street, Kettering, has been discounted from consideration for Traveller pitches

There has been a mixed reaction to a council’s decision to eliminate two sites in Kettering from consideration for Gypsy and Traveller pitches.

Members of Kettering Borough Council’s planning policy committee decided yesterday (Wednesday, February 19) not to proceed with plans to install pitches in Crown Street and at the former garages in Scott Road.

The move was greeted with applause from many of the more than 200 members of the public who attended the meeting.

Cllr Michael Brown, who addressed the committee to speak out against both sites, said he was delighted with the outcome.

A total of more than 500 people wrote to last year’s consultation to give their opposition to the sites, and Cllr Brown said: “I worked very hard with the local community. I am very, very happy that we came together as a team and we stood strong.

“It was a great decision for the people of Scott Road and Crown Street.”

But those who had spoken against some of the four sites which remain under consideration have expressed their disappointment.

The council, which opted to take a shorter-term approach and which now needs to find 14 pitches by 2022, will proceed with one pitch at the Woodcroft in Stoke Albany Road, Desborough. There were only three objections to that site submitted during the consultation.

Plans for three pitches at Black Paddock, Braybrooke, remain under consideration. A flood risk assessment has to be carried out at land earmarked for 15 pitches off junction four of the A14 at Rothwell, while any plans for up to 10 pitches at Highcroft Farm, Broughton, will be subject to an ecological survey which could designate it as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

County and borough councillor Jim Hakewill, who spoke against the plans for Highcroft Farm, said the committee’s decision was a blow to rural communities.

“It seems to me that the rural areas are simply a place to put any activity that the urban areas are not comfortable with,” he said.”

Meanwhile, David Howes, the ward councillor for Braybrooke – the site of a significant proportion of Gypsy and Traveller sites in the borough – said villagers “now feel they have been abused by this council”.

The leader of the Labour group on Kettering Council, Dave Bishop, said: “Nowhere’s right for everyone, but we must provide for Gypsies and Travellers, and we must provide decent sites, with shops and schools within easy distance.”

Planning policy committee member Cllr Terry Freer had earlier told the meeting: “We have tried very hard to find a resolution to what’s an extraordinarily difficult problem.”