Twyford Orchards Gypsy site will be expanded

A traveller's site in Berkshire will be expanded onto greenbelt land after proposals were approved by planners.

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

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

Approval was given after the government agreed "exceptional circumstances" warranted use of the surrounding land.

The upgrade will cost £1.4m and the council has been awarded £575,000 by the Homes and Communities Agency and said it would fund the rest itself.

'Extreme exception'

Twyford Orchards has been a traveller site for more than 30 years and operates under a licence system, with one licence per pitch.

The vast majority of occupants were either born on the site or have lived there since it was first established, the council said.

Councillor Keith Baker said: "This land is in a greenbelt but the government will allow us under exceptional circumstances to use this land now we have planning permission.

"This is an extreme exception which is unique. We are not setting a precedent and we will continue to fight any new developments in the greenbelt.

"By expanding the site it would keep established households within the community, and tackle issues related to the overcrowding and amenities on the site.

"We won't allow more families to move onto the site and have made it clear we'll take enforcement action should this happen."

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