Traveller pitch numbers will not be as high as first though, report says

THE number of gypsy and traveller pitches required in East Cambridgeshire in the coming years will not be as high as previously thought, a report released this week confirmed.

A study carried out on behalf of the district council found that about 38 new pitches will be required over the next 20 years to 2031, less than half the amount required under the previous Government.

In a report to councillors on the Development and Transport Committee on Tuesday, planning officer Abigail Taylor, said: “The GTANA requires fewer pitches to be provided than the previous Regional Spatial Strategy targets, which stated that 64 pitches should be provided in East Cambridgeshire between 2006 and 2031 and a further 14 pitches between 2021 and 2025.”

Ms Taylor added that, in its next local plan, the district council would have to identify sites to meet at least some of the 38-pitch need.

Thanks to a survey carried out last year, the council says it has already identified land for at least 24 pitches, though sites at Hod Hall Lane in Haddenham and Heath Road in Swaffham Prior had been disregarded in the face of strident local opposition.

Planning permission is also in place for a further 11 pitches to be built on land at Whitecross Farm in Wilburton which, if completed, would leave a residual requirement of 27 pitches.

According to the council’s Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessment (GTANA), there are currently 142 gypsy and traveller pitches in existence across the district.

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Councillor Peter Moakes, chairman of Development and Transport sub committee, said: “It is very important as we plan for the future of our district, we address the needs of all groups and cultures who live and thrive in our communities. So whether it is for families, businesses or Gypsies and Travellers – it is our duty to ensure we have the necessary infrastructure in place to allow for growth in the forthcoming decades.

“In the case of Gypsies and Travellers, we have a good record of providing the right amount of pitches for our local population, ensuring we can meet the changing needs of our communities. We will always work hard to ensure as East Cambridgeshire develops and grows, the infrastructure is in place to meet the challenges that the future may hold.”