Travellers welcome £1.2m plans to expand Twyford siteBy Jon Nurse
May 28, 2012
Residents of a static travellers site in Twyford are welcoming £1.2 million expansion plans that will give more space to growing families.
Plans to add 0.65 hectares of land to the Twyford Orchards travellers site in London Road went on display to the public, with a planning application expected in the next couple of months.
Pitch holder Frank Stevens said: “We’ve been here since the site first opened more than 30 years ago.
“The trouble now is some of the families have doubled up here.
“When I first came we had no kids so it was fine to have a small plot.
“It’s good to change with the times and it’ll be nice to have a decent sized plot. At the moment it’s a fire hazard as everything is too close together.”
Mr Stevens lives on his pitch with wife Fiona, 55, as well as his son David, 25, his fiancée Jade and their two-year-old girl Taylor-Lee.
The 58-year-old said: “I’m happy with the plans because my son would get his own pitch.
“The council have shown us all the plans.
“I know that some people are for it and others are against because they don’t want to have to move.”
The site opened in 1977 with 15 pitches accommodating one large mobile home, a tourer, washing facilities and a shed.
Today the site has 16 pitches, but four of the families are now trying to accommodate a new generation.
The plans, that went on display at Twyford Youth Centre on Tuesday, May 15, would increase the size of the pitches to have 10 on the existing site and 10 on neighbouring land, which the council is planning to purchase.
Carol Lovell, borough council senior strategy officer, said: “The site needs to come in line with modern standards to give them the relevant space.
“A pitch is defined by law and there are requirements for the distances between the structures.
“We have found that 80 to 90 per cent of the residents have been content with the proposals.”
Councillor Keith Baker, executive member for Gypsy Roma Traveller liaison, said: “It’s essential to manage the site in the future better than we have in the past.
“With this proposal we can wipe the slate clean.
“This expansion is only to accommodate families already on the site, with extended family receiving a new pitch. We are adamant no more people will move in.
“If we don’t do anything we would have to move families causing overcrowding off the site.
“We don’t want to have to do this and rather than destroy the family unit, the solution is to expand.”
The expansion could cost up to £1.2 million, with £575,000 coming from the Housing and Communities Agency.
Cllr Baker said: “We will try to strip the budget significantly so the cost to our taxpayers would be a lot smaller.
“Our aim is to do the work causing minimum disruption and we are taking a very robust case forward.
“It will be up to the planning committee to make a decision.”
The neighbouring land is owned by a group of trustees and may have to be seized in a compulsory purchase order if a sale cannot be agreed.
Through the planning process local residents will have the opportunity to comment on the plans further.