Kettering Council opts to delay long-term decision on Traveller sites

The proposed Gypsy/Traveller sites in Kettering, in Scott Road (left) and Crown Street, were discounted
The proposed Gypsy/Traveller sites in Kettering, in Scott Road (left) and Crown Street, were discounted

Councillors in Kettering have voted not to allocate all of the sites needed by 2031 to fulfil its legal requirement to accommodate Gypsies and Travellers in the borough.

The authority has to provide 37 pitches by that date, but members of the planning policy committee decided on Wednesday, February 19, that it was unrealistic for them to have to decide at this stage on a combination of sites to meet the borough’s need.

Some members argued a long-term decision might also prove not to be compatible with how planning requirements to house Gypsies and Travellers might change.

However, councillors have resolved to provide a total of 25 sites by 2022, meaning 14 more pitches need to be found by then.

To cheers and applause from members of the public, the committee decided to discount the Scott Road and Crown Street sites in Kettering town from consideration.

Borough councillor Michael Brown said each site would be inappropriate.

There were more than 500 responses opposing the two locations during last summer’s consultation, and Cllr Brown told the committee: “Scott Road and Crown Street were five per cent of the original 38 sites but (the subject of) 40 per cent of objections.

“That has to count for something, otherwise what was the point of asking their opinion in the first place?”

The committee decided the Scott Road site would better serve the borough needs if it was earmarked to help meet a shortfall in affordable housing provision.

They also discounted having a single pitch in Crown Street, saying a site would be out of keeping with the character of the area.

Meanwhile, a decision was taken to move forward with one pitch at Woodcroft in Stoke Albany Road, near Desborough, while three more pitches at Black Paddock, Braybrooke, were left on the table for future consideration.

There will also have to be further assessment of land at junction four of the A14 at Rothwell over whether it is a flood risk, and an ecological survey will be carried out before pitches can be approved for Highcroft Farm near Broughton.

If those sites are both found to be suitable, it would mean the Black Paddock site would not have to be used.

Committee member Cllr Cliff Moreton said putting a long-term plan in place at this stage might even cause unnecessary upset to residents if Government priorities over Gypsy and Traveller accommodation were to change.

“Government policy has a habit of changing,” he said. “You can make a provision for 30 pitches, then four years down the line a new Government comes in.”

More than 200 members of the public attended the meeting, with a number of speakers giving impassioned speeches as to why each area should not be earmarked for Gypsy and Traveller pitches.

There was applause and cheers as members of the committee decided not to proceed with the Scott Road and Crown Street sites.

A range of other sites which had been included in a 2013 consultation, to which more than 1,200 people responded, had already been dropped from consideration.