Devon

Permanent Haldon travellers' site plan backed

Haldon travellers site
Image caption Consultations are taking place between the travellers and the authorities

Plans to set up 15 official traveller pitches on Haldon Hill are being backed by a Devon district council.

Between 30 and 50 travellers, many of whom have children at local schools, have lived on the site in Haldon Forest, near Exeter, since 2002.

Teignbridge Council has voted in favour of taking on ownership of the land from Devon County Council and using a £1m grant to clear and build a full site.

The project now needs to go through the planning process.

'Rare opportunity'

A permanent site would have hard-standing pitches and amenities such as electricity, water, showers and toilets.

Anyone living there would have to pay a fee, which would include a service charge to Teign Housing, which would manage the site, and the pitches would also be subject to council tax, the Teignbridge authority said.

Teign Housing has secured more than £1m from the government's Homes and Community Agency (HCA).

Councillor Philip Vogel, who is responsible for planning and housing at the Conservative-led council, said: "It is a long-standing issue and this is a rare opportunity to resolve it.

"We have the will to develop a permanent solution."

Penny Dane, community development worker for Plymouth and Devon Racial Equality Council, said the proposal for a 15-pitch site was an "appropriate" size.

"The council feels that smaller sites generally work better than larger ones," she said.

'Differing opinions'

"But if people want to stay and there are not enough pitches, we hope Teignbridge Council will continue to look for other solutions."

Ms Dane said the Haldon travellers, like any other diverse group, may have differing opinions over what those solutions could be.

She added that consultations between the travellers and the authorities were still continuing.

Mr Vogel said the council was working to find other areas that would be suitable for transit and permanent pitches.

Subject to planning permission, the new site could be up and running within three years.

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