Fears over location of gipsy site near Diss

The advisability of locating a gipsy and traveller site next to a busy main road near Diss has been questioned by a former county councillor whose rural community is earmarked as a potential location.

The advisability of locating a gipsy and traveller site next to a busy main road near Diss has been questioned by a former county councillor whose rural community is earmarked as a potential location.

South Norfolk Council has published a shortlist of nine sites from which it is hoping to select three to be developed as new authorised traveller pitches.

These include a plot of land south of the A143 Scole Road, at Brockdish.

Although the site is in an idyllic spot overlooking water meadows beside the River Waveney, on the outskirts of the village, the gipsy and traveller families would also be living beside a major route leading to the coast with the inevitable pollution caused by thousands of vehicles using it daily.


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Villager Ron Johnson, a former county and parish councillor, said: 'I think it's a poor site to chose. It's very close to the bypass with the noise and speed of traffic, and there will be young children and animals.'

Other residents are equally worried about the proposal.

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Christine MacKenzie, parish council chairman, said: 'We were extremely surprised and concerned that a rural location on land south of Scole Road and at the entrance to our village has been proposed as a possible site for a gipsy and travellers development. We will be consulting with our residents at the earliest opportunity and invite them to attend our next parish council meeting, scheduled to take place on Thursday 26th February at 7.30pm at Thorpe Abbotts Village Hall.'

As previously proposed, all the current sites are on road corridors along the A11, A47 and A143. And some, including those at Ketteringham, Spooner Row, and Suton, were identified last year during initial public consultations which came in for stiff criticism.

This has led the authority to embark on a revised consultation during which more weight will be given to the views of immediate neighbours. It has also seen the inclusion of the Brockdish site, land west of Stanfield oil depot, near Wymondham, and the coach depot at Old Harleston Road, Earsham, while a controversial site at Kirby Cane has not made the latest shortlist.

The previous consultation last autumn attracted more than a thousand comments. And Ronnie Hoare, who chairs the district council's gipsy and traveller working group, on Monday urged local people to get involved again.

He said: 'We've looked at our long list of 82 sites and scored them using the revised criteria. The vast majority had very poor scores, but out of the long list came a short list of nine which scored strongly - eight permanent sites and one transit site. At the end of the day, the council only needs to find three permanent sites and one transit site.'

The authority's cabinet has been asked to endorse the new consultation on Monday.

Mr Hoar added: 'This is a brand new consultation, nothing is decided. If cabinet says yes, it will open for comments on 9 March and last eight weeks. We are contacting everyone who got in touch before including individuals, parish councils and others.'

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