Council is working to identify new sites

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Residents of a local village say they are ‘angry’ and ‘annoyed’ at Ashfield District Council over fears that a travellers’ camp could be given planning permission because of a shortage of sites in the area.

The Advertiser reported last week that around 200 Underwood residents attended a meeting to discuss two planning applications for developments on greenbelt land.

One of these is for a residential caravan site for an extended traveller family at Travellers Rest on Felley Mill Lane South, with similar applications having been rejected in the past.

Ashfield District councillor Robert Sears-Piccavey said that local people thought the matter had come to a close when the Secretary of State rejected an appeal last year.

But now it seems that this new application could potentially be given the go-ahead because the council has not set aside enough travellers’ sites, as required by planning policy.

It has suggested eight sites but the Government requires it to allocate 10 on an up-to-date Local Plan - and residents fear that this means the planning application could be granted on appeal even if the council turned it down.

“It’s a failure of policy on Ashfield’s part in my view,” said Coun Sears-Piccavey.

“That’s the chink the consultant for the travellers is pursuing. Ashfield are failing the people of Underwood because of that.”

Coun Sears-Piccavey said that it was vital that the council find the extra sites, as without the five-year supply, the area could be vulnerable to developments being built on sites that are not ideal - such as greenbelt land.

Underwood residents are angry that they may lose some of their greenbelt as a result.

“They are all angry, annoyed and frustrated with Ashfield,” said Coun Sears-Piccavey.

“People have said why can’t we just move back to Broxtowe like we used to be years ago.

“They want to know how it can have happened.”

He added: “If Ashfield turn down the application [the applicants] will obviously appeal and if the council have not sorted out the extra sites within the time the appeal is heard, we will probably lose it. It’s a big worry.”

Coun Gail Turner, Nottinghamshire county councillor for the area, agreed that the district council’s position on a Local Plan could have consequences on the outcome of future planning applications.

“They have not done their duty, they have not produced their plan,” she said.