Preferred gypsy site shortlist confirmed

ROTHER Council’s Cabinet Committee this week confirmed a final shortlist of preferred gypsy sites, including two in Battle.

Sites at Beeches Brook, Battle, Greenacres Farm, Battle and Telegraph Point, Coldharbour Farm, Brightling, are to be taken forward to meet needs for travellers’ pitches up to and beyond 2016.

This follows site visits on January 18 and February 6.

A fourth site recommended for approval - at Cherry Tree Nursery, Flimwell - has been removed pending further investigation.

This could include a visit from the council’s enforcement team to gauge the effect removal of existing polytunnels might have, as these helped to ‘disguise’ a caravan already on the site.

Principal planning officer David Marlow told Rother’s Cabinet on Monday that, as of next month, the authority must maintain a five year supply of suitable sites.

Failure to do so would “carry great weight” with a planning inspector in any subsequent enquiry. He added: “This is a very difficult situation. There are no easy choices.”

Council leader Carl Maynard acknowledged public concerns expressed in a host of e-mails.

Cllr Mary Barnes, whose ward includes Flimwell, said the proposed site there was “just not in the right place” and the prospect of it becoming a permanent travellers’ site had “caused a tremendous amount of anguish and disquiet to local people.”

A report to Cabinet said in considering the various options, members of the scrutiny committee felt they had been “stuck between a rock and a hard place”. With no easy options, it considered those on the shortlist were the “reasonable” options.

Cllr Angharad Davies felt inclusion of Beeches Brook could set a precedent.

Sites not visited included Actons Farm in Buckholt Lane, Bexhill, and part of a major allocation in north and/or west Bexhill. Cabinet resolved that further consideration be given to the latter Bexhill option to meet the plan period requirement for 2028.