Two Battle sites shortlisted for gypsy pitches

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TWO locations in Battle have been shortlisted to potentially accommodate permanent traveller sites.

The sites at Beeches Brook in Telham Lane and Greenacres Farm, just off Hastings Road, have both made it on to Rother District Council’s shortlist of five sites.

Both locations are currently home to gypsy families.

Under government legislation, permanent pitches for gypsies and travellers must be provided by local authorities. Rother’s core strategy allows for three permanent pitches from 2011 to 2016 with a further six pitches from 2016 to 2028.

Councillors on Rother’s services and overview scrutiny committee met on Monday night to discuss a shortlist of 15 possible sites, which officers narrowed down from an initial 850.

Earlier in the year, Rother councillors carried out site visits at these 15 locations, which included land in Battle, Catsfield, Brightling, Robertsbridge, Flimwell, Cripps Corner, Ewhurst, Rye, Guestling, Westfield and Bexhill.

Cllr Ian Jenkins, who has held Rother’s portfolio for travellers since 2006, told the committee this was a ‘very, very difficult subject’ and proposed Beeches Brook, Greenacres Farm, Telegraph Point at Coldharbour Farm in Brightling, Cherry Tree Nursery in Flimwell and land in Bexhill, to be opened up by the Link Road, be chosen.

Speaking at the meeting, Battle member Cllr Kathryn Field argued Beeches Brook should be removed from the proposal.

Gypsy Linda Smith set up home on the Telham Lane site in 2007, but risked being ejected from by Rother following a series of planning breaches.

Following several appeals, in August last year Linda was granted permission to remain on the site for another three years in order to allow Rother to continue its search for permanent traveller sites.

Cllr Field told the committee: “I am not in agreement with site two (Beeches Brook) as it gives out the wrong message - that you should just build when you feel like it and put in a retrospective application.”

The committee rejected Cllr Field’s proposal and Cllr Jenkins’ motion was carried.

The item will be discussed at the next Rother District Council Cabinet meeting.