Wales

Blaenau Gwent Gypsy site plan rejected by council members

Cwmcrachen Gypsy and traveller site Image copyright Google
Image caption Gypsies and travellers say a larger site is needed to accommodate growing families

A council's proposal to replace a Gypsy and traveller settlement with a larger, more modern site has been rejected by its own planning committee.

Families on the Cwmcrachen site, near Nantyglo, say it is in a "desperate state of repair" and too small.

Blaenau Gwent councillors rejected the plan on the grounds that 28 pitches exceeded the recommended maximum of 20.

Planning officers had urged approval, saying larger sites were permitted in "exceptional circumstances".

There has been a Gypsy and traveller settlement at Cwmcrachen for more than 200 years.

The new, larger site had been planned to accommodate growing families with more modern facilities.

A letter sent to the council on behalf of 15 residents of the site had said they were concerned about the delay in giving the go-ahead, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

"This is causing great distress to many residents due to the fact of the deteriorating accommodation and facilities that are in a desperate state of repair at the current site," the letter said.

"Many residents believe the council has understood the importance of family in the Gypsy and traveller community and has included their family values and culture in the plans for the extension."

Factory plans

While supportive of the redevelopment, members were wary of going against Welsh Government guidance on the maximum number of pitches - despite a commitment by ministers to fund the £4.5m scheme.

Nantyglo councillor Keri Rowson said: "The Welsh Government guidance mentions exceptional circumstances, but I can't see any here. I feel like the authority should explore other angles."

Councillor Bernard Willis, from Tredegar, took issue with the site expanding into land that could be better used for industrial purposes.

"There is a factory that is in close proximity that is probably going to expand, and what we're crying out for in this borough is manufacturing," he said.

A spokesman for the council said there were "a number of potential options" including an appeal against the decision, revising the plan, or not proceeding with the scheme.

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