THE number of pitches for Travellers in Worcester is set to nearly double.
It has been announced that 18 new pitches for Travellers will be created in Worcester after a pot of cash was handed down from government.
A consortium of housing associations, led by Rooftop, extracted £840,000 from a £60 million national fund that will provide new authorised pitches as well as better facilities for travellers on official sites.
There are already 20 pitches for travellers in Worcester and they are all on the same site at Offerton Lane, Warndon, near Sixways, right next to the border with Wychavon district.
Nina Warrington, strategic housing services manager at Worcester City Council, said: “All councils are required by central government to produce a Gypsy and Travellers’ needs assessment.
“The provision of central funding for 18 pitches in Worcester is based on the findings of this assessment. They will be delivered over the next four years, although no specific sites have been identified at this stage.
“The creation of new Traveller pitches will be subject to the standard planning application process which will include public consultation.”
Tony Henderson, Gypsy and Traveller project manager for Rooftop, said: “As a group, gipsies and travellers remain one of the most disadvantaged in the country. Authorised provision reduces the number of unauthorised sites and the tensions that can arise as a result.”
Now that funding has been secured, Rooftop aims to submit planning applications in the next few months and work on the schemes could begin in early 2013 with completion targeted by the end of March 2015.
No other district in Worcestershire was awarded any cash although the West Midlands was handed £4.9 million, which will deliver 88 pitches – including the 18 for Worcester – across the region.
The Government hopes the authorised Travellers’ sites will help to reduce the number of unauthorised sites and reduce tensions between travellers and the settled community. Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said: “This funding will help provide sites in a way that reflects local needs in consultation with the community.
“It will assist hundreds of traveller families find sites where they want to live and foster better relations with the existing communities and councils.”
Through the Localism Act, the Government is also introducing powers for councils to tackle the abuse of retrospective planning permission and any form of unauthorised development. Bids for the remaining £13 million of the £60 million budget will continue to be considered and the Homes and Communities Agency will help those who had their bids rejected to improve and resubmit their offers so further pitches can be delivered over the next three years.
see also: Pitches for Travellers set to double