Anger as Gypsy and Traveller site proposed for "main entrance" to Harrogate

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A Gypsy and Traveller site proposed for one of the main entrances to Harrogate in the Draft Local Plan has sparked concern among local residents.

The Draft Local Plan, setting out how the district will develop and grow until 2035, opened for consultation on Friday, November 11.

Residents have been able to comment on proposed housing and employment site but a potential Gypsy and Travellers site in Pannal has proven to be the most controversial aspect so far.

Coun Rebecca Burnett, cabinet member for Planning and Sustainable Development explained that, as part of national planning policy, the council must provide a site for Gypsy,Traveller and Travelling Showpeople’s housing needs.

She said: “When we issued the call for sites we had one section for travellers but unfortunately none came forward that were suitable.

“This left us in a difficult situation and means we had to look at using some of the council’s own land.

“This is not the situation we wanted to be in but we do have a duty to find some land. We don’t own many sites at the moment and the only deliverable option we can see is for the option in Pannal.”

However, the suggestion has prompted a number of concerned responses from nearby residents. One consultee said that he was “incredulous” that it could be built on the main approach to a popular tourist town.

Mike Butterworth commented: “I feel it is inappropriate to have such a camp so close to residential properties and there surely must be more fitting locations in the Harrogate district for this.”

Michael McElhinney proposed that one of the existing Gypsy and Traveller sites could be developed and warned that placing it in Pannal would “encourage more travellers” to the area.

He said: “Rightly or wrongly it would discourage prospective purchasers of not only the proposed new homes but also of well-established properties in the area.”

There are already two public gypsy and traveller sites across the district but the draft local plan states there is an “immediate need” for seven gypsy and traveller pitches.

Coun Burnett said: “If we can find a better alternative then we will look into it. However, we don’t have any other pieces of land that can accommodate it.

“We have no choice about it, there are always concerns about location as people won’t want them to be there. But it’s going to have to be somewhere.

“We could purchase other land but we need to look into that a bit more. No council wants to go out there and purchase any more land.”