Concerns over Breckland gipsy site proposals

Residents in an area of south Norfolk have accused a council of not consulting them on proposals to build a permanent gipsy and traveller site near their homes because they live just within the border of another local authority.

Within its document called the Attleborough and Snetterton Heath Area Action Plan, which sets out a blueprint for how the area will develop over the next 16 years, Breckland Council has highlighted two potential areas for 15 pitches.

One of the proposed areas near Besthorpe abuts the border of Breckland and South Norfolk Council.

But while residents living on the Breckland side of the border have been leafleted and drop-in sessions organised to collect their views on the Area Action Plan, those over the fence in nearby Morley, Suton, Spooner Row and Wymondham claim not to have been so proactively consulted.

Some South Norfolk residents have recently hit public internet message forums angered that they only heard about the plans through word of mouth, arguing that if a permanent gipsy and traveller site was built at that spot it would have a far greater impact on schools and services in the Wymondham area.

There are also concerns that a mentioned distributor road between the B1077 and A11 could pass by Spooner Row.

Diana Hockaday, wymondham town councillor representing Suton, urged planning officers to organise a drop-in session in the South Norfolk area so people could ask questions on the all options before a consultation into the Area Action Plan ends on January 28.

Most Read

Breckland said such a meeting would be the responsibility of South Norfolk to organise, but the latter has not confirmed whether it will do this. South Norfolk has already hinted that it would object to the siting of permanent pitches in that area.

Mrs Hockaday said: 'I think what's concerned me more than anything is the apparent lack of joint working here. There's been several headlines in the papers about a 'marriage' between South Norfolk and Breckland - well this is not a very good start.

'While all these discussions are going on the people who really, really matter - the residents - seem to have been forgotten and for me they are the most important part of this. If this is an example of joint district working then I'm not impressed.'

A spokesman for Breckland Council said it would welcome comments from residents in both districts.

He said: 'The document clearly states that we would be looking to site any possible facility for travellers along the A11 corridor within the Breckland district.

'We acknowledge that the circle drawn on the map (the possible area for the pitches) may have included villages which are in the South Norfolk district. We are at the early stages of consultation and no site has been identified nor any decisions taken yet.

'In making decisions such as this we are always mindful of the neighbouring communities, be they in Breckland or beyond, and the impact any such development would have on them.'

South Norfolk councillor Derek Blake, cabinet member for planning, housing and the built environment, said: 'Our concern is to make sure local people are properly consulted and we will be contacting Breckland Council to ensure that happens. We await a report on this, but early indications from our officers suggests this area might not be suitable or appropriate.'

To view and comment on the Attleborough and Snetterton Heath Area Action Plan, visit http://consult.breckland.gov.uk