East Grinstead nursery fears over traveller site plans

Michael Dongray Image copyright Michael Dongray
Image caption Michael Dongray believes his business would be ruined if the plans go ahead

A proposed permanent traveller site in East Grinstead would destroy a "thriving 27-year-old business", its owners have said.

Mid Sussex District Council has suggested three locations for traveller sites including land where Imberhorne Lane Nursery is based.

Two other sites north of Burgess Hill would provide another 12 pitches.

The council said official sites for travellers had to be found but suitable places were "extremely limited".

The owner of Imberhorne Lane Nursery believes his business would be ruined if the proposed site in East Grinstead goes ahead.

Michael Dongray said it would be "very difficult to uproot" and move the garden centre, which covers a 2.5 acre area and includes underground irrigation works.

'Difficult decisions'

He said he had "absolutely no grievances with travellers or gypsies".

Council leader Gary Wall said "difficult decisions" had to be made as "the planning process requires us to actually plan properly for the travelling community".

Mr Wall added that over 160 locations had been looked at with two recommended for consultation, although "no final decision has been taken".

Image caption Unauthorised traveller sites have been set up in various parts of Sussex

Mid Sussex District Council must find 34 permanent traveller pitches by 2031 as part of national planning policy.

Joseph Jones from the Gypsy Council said the traveller community was growing and people needed a place to live.

He warned that unless permanent sites were created more unauthorised camps would spring up.

The options will be discussed by the council on 23 July with a public consultation to follow afterwards.

A final decision on the sites is not expected until May 2015.

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