Berkshire

Twyford Orchards Gypsy site: Greenbelt expansion plan

Plans to expand a Berkshire traveller site onto greenbelt land move a step closer following a vote by councillors.

Twyford Orchards encampment on London Road, in Twyford, currently breaches fire safety regulations because it has become overcrowded.

Wokingham Borough Council is to proceed with plans to replace the site's 16 pitches with 20 over a wider area, using some greenbelt land.

The proposals will still be subject to planning permission.

The meeting on Thursday evening was attended by members of the public who were able to ask questions and raise their concerns.

The council's executive voted to proceed with the proposals but reiterated the circumstances were "exceptional" and it would "continue to resist greenbelt development".

'Extreme exception'

The council said "strict licence conditions" were in place at the site to ensure it did not become overcrowded again.

Ahead of the meeting, London Road resident Josephine Blythe said the current encampment was "not a problem site and the residents seem like nice people", but she described the council's plans as "a bit naughty".

The 44-year-old, who runs a pottery painting shop in Twyford, said: "The council wouldn't allow planning permission for other buildings on greenbelt land."

Councillor Keith Baker said it was an "extreme exception".

Mr Baker, executive member for Gypsy Roma traveller liaison at Wokingham Borough Council, said most of the tenants at the site were either born there or had lived there for more than 30 years.

"They are well integrated into the community and eviction is not something that is appropriate," he said.

"We are not setting a precedent and we will continue to fight any new developments in the greenbelt."

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