Plans for extra gypsy sites quietly dropped

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PLANS to build the equivalent of around four extra traveller sites in Dacorum have been dumped.

Under a previous housing blueprint the borough was expected to provide 59 new gypsy and traveller pitches by 2031.

A planning report went as far as identifying a number of suitable locations – Featherbed Lane and Holtsmere End Lane in Hemel Hempstead, Swing Gate Lane in Berkhamsted, Icknield Way in Tring and Bovingdon Airfield – that provoked an angry backlash.

But the coalition government has redrafted planning rules and Dacorum Borough Council has abandoned the allocation.

Currently there are two official traveller sites in the borough – 30 pitches in Three Cherry Trees Lane, Hemel Hempstead, and six at Long Marston, both run by Herts County Council.

Councillor Steve Holmes, cabinet member for planning and regeneration at the borough council, said: “Herts County Council will not build any more and Dacorum Borough Council don’t have any plans to build any because we don’t have any demand and we are not obliged to.”

Council papers from 2008 say the extra pitches are needed ‘because a significant number of gypsies and travellers currently live on unauthorised sites across the country’.

There has been controversy over recent bids to increase the size of traveller sites on Tullochside Farm in Redbourn and Hemel Hempstead Road near Hudnall.

Mr Holmes said: “Our policy doesn’t determine how many we build up front. It’s a case of by demand, if someone comes forward and says: ‘I want to buy a plot and build some pitches’. So far no-one has – that’s meeting demand.”

He said extra sites would only be considered alongside large-scale new developments.