Landowner 'not told' of gipsy site plan

A farmer whose land has been earmarked for a potential gipsy and traveller site was not informed by the district council of the controversial proposal, it has emerged.

A farmer whose land has been earmarked for a potential gipsy and traveller site was not informed by the district council of the controversial proposal, it has emerged.

There were cries of “disgraceful” at a packed public meeting at Wymondham when landowner Trevor Cullum revealed he had only just found about the plan - although it had been under discussion for more than a year.

South Norfolk Council is looking

to establish a gipsy and traveller


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site along the A11 corridor, as part of a requirement to provide a total of

28 permanent pitches in the

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district.

Land at Station Road, Spooner Row, owned by Mr Cullum's family, has been put forward as a reserve site - the preferred site being adjacent land at Chepore Lane, Suton. Both are in the parish of Wymondham. The other sites are at Ketteringham, Earsham and Kirby Cane.

Friday's meeting was called by Wymondham Town Council to discuss the plans and included a presentation by district planning and housing officials, who soon came under fire from objectors.

Mr Cullum said: “We were in the dark like everyone else, apart from the top table, until two weeks ago. We haven't been approached as to whether we would like to sell the site. I don't know whether our site can be compulsorily purchased, but we

will not go against the feelings of

the local community and will

oppose the sale.” This was

greeted with thunderous

applause.

Planning officer Tony Fielder apologised to Mr Cullum, blaming the property professional the council had employed for the oversight. But residents were clearly not impressed - having previously been told that the initial consultation process to identify “suitable” sites had

started back in April 2007.

The lack of facilities in Suton and Spooner Row, the proximity of the sites to a busy A11 road junction, increased traffic, the general impact on the community and house values were among the key concerns - some also voicing fears that it would be impossible to regulate the number of travellers.

Resident Roberta Reynolds said: “We have built up a very nice business in Suton, we have people come from all over the world and to know that people like gipsies will live three or four doors away from us, our business will go out the window. It is so unfair.”

And Mark Newman asked: “How do you see this integration between travellers and the settled community? Do you have a strategy? George Bush didn't have one when he went to war.”

Housing officer Tony Cook stressed that the council's existing Roundwell site at Costessey was well managed and stable, children attended local schools, one of the gipsies was a school governor, and the site manager has just been made an

MBE.

“The strong feedback we get from gipsy and travellers and the settled community is they don't want sites bigger than six to eight pitches,” he stressed.

Spooner Row residents said after the meeting they plan to launch a protest petition on the village website at www.spoonerrow.f2s.com - the council having also suggested permanent sites at nearby Ketteringham, and Earsham or Kirby Cane.

South Norfolk Council is inviting written comments. The deadline is November 4. Letters should be sent to: Planning Policy Unit, South Norfolk House, Swan Lane, Long Stratton, Norwich, NR15 2XE; email LDF@s-norfolk.gov.uk, or comment online at www.south-norfolk.gov.uk/planning/2165.asp

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