Bowd - 'unsuitable' for traveller site says Sidmouth business group

THE provision of gypsy and traveller sites at the Bowd, Sidmouth is unsuitable, states Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce s first newsletter, distributed to local businesses.

THE provision of gypsy and traveller sites at the Bowd, Sidmouth is unsuitable, states Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce's first newsletter, distributed to local businesses.

It says the Bowd site "seems an unattractive option, given its prominent location at the major entrance to the town" and is unsuitable because of sloping ground, lack of services/amenities and "crucially, its position between two busy roads, representing a danger to children."

The Chamber wants clarification over whether Government requires East Devon District Council to provide nine pitches for gypsies and travellers or just assess the need for the area.

Last year, councils nationally were tasked by Government to provide the right number and type of facilities for people "of nomadic habit of life, whatever their race or origin."

Matthew Dickins, principal planning officer at EDDC, said Government guidance states the gypsy/traveller community is "one of the most marginalised minority groups in the country.

"Government policy requires councils to provide for gypsy and traveller accommodation needs.

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Councils that do make provision have a much better chance of stopping unauthorised sites springing up in their area."

Government asked local authorities to undertake Gypsy and Traveller accommodation Assessments.

The Devon assessment identified the need for nine permanent and five temporary pitches in East Devon.

The South West Regional Spatial Strategy covering 2006-2036 advises there is a need for an extra 14 new permanent and eight new temporary pitches across the South West.

EDDC launched its search for sites last April and ideas, following consultations, were taken to a 'think tank' of council members.

A number of initial options for sites were selected for further investigation, but only one landowner, at The Bowd, Sidmouth, expressed interest.

The public will be asked for its views on this site.

Mr Dickins said: "The consultation exercise for land at the Bowd will help towards production of EDDC's Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan and assist consideration of any planning application that might be submitted at this site prior to the plan being finalised and adopted.

EDDC's development control committee, which resolved to have public consultation over the Bowd, will broaden the site search before holding formal consultations on producing the development plan document.

If EDDC decides not to produce such a plan it would be contrary to the wider East Devon Local Development framework, produced under the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.