Cheshire East Council has decided to move forward with a planning application that could see a permanent site for gypsies and travellers developed in Crewe.
After an assessment of council-owned land, a plot off Parkers Road and Kent Lane in the Coppenhall area of Crewe was judged to be the most appropriate location for a permanent site.
A number of other locations along the M6 motorway corridor were considered but the Parkers Road site was thought to be the most suitable.
The other sites that were looked at are as follows, along with factors that made them less appropriate:
- Pyms Lane, Crewe – its proximity to the household waste site and local businesses;
- Moss End Farm, Alsager – it would be a significant extension into open countryside and difficult to screen, highway access from the M6 would be through a residential area
- Saxon Cross Motel site, Sandbach – this site has passed into private ownership with fresh plans for redevelopment
- Leighton West, Crewe – a very visible site that would be difficult to screen, the site would also be very close to the new cemetery
- Maw Green Road, Crewe – the proximity of a landfill site with the associated noise, dust and smells
- Nursery Lane, Alsager – close to residential area and local amenities. However, it is close to mineral extraction works in the local area and access would be via a narrow lane
- Broad Lane, Nantwich – area of farmland, close to amenities, good access off a main road. However, initial assessments suggested that this area had a strong newt colony
- Middlewich Road, Walleys Green – good access off a major road but too remote from services and potentially poor ground conditions
- Booth Bed Lane, Goostrey – close to residential area and local services, and reasonable access off a minor road. However, initial assessments suggested the presence of newts
- Holmshaw Lane, Haslington – narrow lane with tight corners and bad access from main roads. The area is fairly remote from the village of Haslington and the local services
- Hack Green, near Nantwich – remote piece of land in a small hamlet. Relatively poor access to local services or transport in the area
The land at Parkers Road is considered by the council to have a number of advantages:
- It is close to the urban area – but not adjoining it
- Schools, shops and other facilities are within safe and easy walking distance – there is a footpath on Parkers Road itself
- The site is flat and relatively free from constraints
- Good road access
- It is an area which gypsies and travellers are known to use
- Preliminary work, including a newt survey, has already been carried out
If approved, the site would house 12 pitches and an amenity block with washrooms, kitchen, dayroom and laundry.
The council has a legal requirement to meet the accommodation needs of gypsies and travellers. There are currently 15 permanent sites in Cheshire East, of which one is owned by the council. There is currently no transit provision.
A gypsy and traveller accommodation and related services assessment, published in 2007, identified a need to provide further permanent pitches equating to 27 to 42 pitches between 2006 and 2011 and a further 19 to 22 pitches between 2011 and 2016. Since 2006, only 10 new permanent pitches were created in Cheshire East.
All gypsies and travellers on council-owned or private sites pay council tax, rent, gas and electricity in the same way as other residents.
The planning application is expected to be submitted later in the autumn and will be subject to consultation where people's views will be considered before a decision is made.
Cllr Rachel Bailey, cabinet member with responsibility for safer and stronger communities, said: "A proactive approach to managing the housing needs of Gypsies and Travellers is the only way to tackle the issue.
"Permanent and transit sites are proven to reduce the number of unauthorised developments and encampments, two issues which concern residents and are costly to the Council and local businesses.
"We hope that people will fully engage with us during the consultation process of this planning application and let us know their views."