‘Everywhere should be like this ‘- inside the unique Norfolk traveller’s site

Children from Brooks Green at the party to celebrate ten years of thei site. Picture: Newman Associa

Children from Brooks Green at the party to celebrate ten years of thei site. Picture: Newman Associates PR - Credit: Archant

There are children laughing and dogs basking in the sun in a countryside enclave in the south of Norwich.

Travellers at Brooks Green with members of Broadland Housing Group. Picture: Newman Associates PR

Travellers at Brooks Green with members of Broadland Housing Group. Picture: Newman Associates PR - Credit: Archant

But Brooks Green, off Mangreen Lane at Harford, was a first-of-its-kind traveller's site - and isn't your typical Norfolk family home.

Opened in 2009 and having just celebrated its 10th birthday, the £1.1m plot was the only traveller's site in the country created through a partnership between a district council and housing association.

Travellers sleep in their caravans but have day houses which have kitchens and bathrooms. Picture: R

Travellers sleep in their caravans but have day houses which have kitchens and bathrooms. Picture: Ruth Lawes - Credit: Archant

It houses eight pitches, which travellers rent from the housing association in the same way as regular affordable housing, with attached dining, bathroom and toilet facilities.

For Betsy Mitchell, who moved in shortly after it opened after 20 years of living in various sites across Norfolk, the site is the best she's lived in.

Two families currently live on the site. Picture: Ruth Lawes

Two families currently live on the site. Picture: Ruth Lawes - Credit: Archant


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The 52-year-old grandmother said: "It's fantastic. I've got arthritis so it's lovely being able to walk into my day house, which has under floor heating.

"I still sleep in my caravan as the houses don't have bedrooms. But I wouldn't sleep in it even if they did have a bed. I'm a Romany gypsy through and through and I like it how it is. I've got my freedom."

The site opened ten years ago and has 8 lots. Picture: Ruth Lawes

The site opened ten years ago and has 8 lots. Picture: Ruth Lawes - Credit: Archant

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The facilities were also high on the list for 37-year-old mother Saskia Burns, who has lived on the site since it was a field.

She said: "You've got electricity and you've got water, which makes life a little bit easier. I don't have to keep going to the laundrette all the time!"

But it is the sense of community and safety that draws travellers to Brooks Green.

Ms Burns said: "We just let them all go out and play because it's protected. Everybody looks out for everybody here."

James Smith, 16, said: "Where I used to live in Essex it was a lot louder. Brooks Green is quiet and peaceful. We aren't bothered by anyone at all."

Mrs Mitchell said that travellers are often victims of prejudice and get tarnished by the same brush but at Brooks Green they can live with their doors open.

She added: "There's never any problems here and we just get on with our lives. Everywhere should be like this."

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