Four permanent traveller sites in Mansfield one step closer after consultation agreed

Residents in Mansfield are set to be consulted on plans to create four permanent sites for travellers, gypsies and travelling show people in the district.

Ratified by councillors on Mansfield District Council last night, July 16, the plans will see 15 sites across Mansfield and Warsop reviewed on criteria to see whether they would be suitable for permanent sites for travellers visiting the area.

Travellers on Sutton Lawn last year.

Travellers on Sutton Lawn last year.

It would see one site provided for transit caravans, one site for travellers to stay, and two sites for travelling show people such as organisers of circuses and funfairs.

It is part of a central government scheme which is asking local authorities to provide permanent sites in their areas, with a report outlying that "everyone should have the opportunity of a decent home".

Following initial discussions last year, 122 sites were reviewed and considered against criteria including impact on the environment, proximity to public transport, health services, education and provision of utilities.

The sites include derelict brownfield land between Spencer Street and Holden Street at Ladybrook, derelict brownfield land at Victoria Street, Mansfield, greenfield land at Mansfield Road, Spion Kop, and surplus playing pitches at former Sherwood Hall School, off Stuart Avenue, Forest Town.

Travellers at the car park of Oak Tree Leisure Centre in December 2018.

Travellers at the car park of Oak Tree Leisure Centre in December 2018.

TO FIND OUT WHICH SITES ARE UP FOR CONSULTATION, CLICK HERE.

The plans were met with reluctance from councillors across the floor, with members saying "nobody wants them in their back yard" - and concern was also raised about the "feasibility" of some locations.

Some even suggested using land behind the council's Mansfield Civic Centre headquarters.

Councillor Stephen Garner, independent member for Racecourse, said: "I think we've got everything here at the civic centre that would be ideal for travellers.

"We've got a doctor's surgery, a pharmacy, police based here, the Tesco supermarket, and if we have them here we've got CCTV to make sure they are policed."

More concern was raised about the manner in which the initial review of 122 sites was conducted, with Mansfield Independent Forum leader Coun Mick Barton suggesting the firm which undertook the review had "little understanding" of the area.

He said: "These pieces of land in some cases we don't even own. I've had pieces of land put up for consultation in my ward that are privately owned, and that's not fair.

"The firm that conducted the review is from Bristol, not from Mansfield, and clearly they don't have an understanding of the local area. Some of these sites are not feasible.

"I don't agree with using greenfield land at all. As a council we need to go to the individual sites and we should decide what sites to use, it should not be a firm from Bristol."

But Andy Abrahams, Mansfield's mayor, pressed that this is a "national policy" and says it is the council's "responsibility" to provide the land, particularly without a local plan in place.

He said: "It's important to point out that this is a national police and we are following national guidelines.

"The consequence of not following this would be a delay to the local plan, and that itself might cause government intervention.

"The consultation is a two way process, involving travellers as well, and where they end up we've got to look at the impact."

Four consultation events will be held on the plans, with residents encourage to attend and give their views about each individual site.

The first will take place at the Civic Centre, from 1pm to 7pm, on Wednesday, July 24.

Other events will take place at Turner Hall in Mansfield Woodhouse, on September 2, and Warsop Town Hall, on September 5, during the same hours.