Councillor vows to fight Whitchurch Greenbelt traveller site

Local Conservatives have criticised Bath and North East Somerset Council for continuing with plans to earmark Greenbelt land in the area as an authorised travellers’ site.Whitchurch councillor Peter Edwards has vowed to continue to fight plans for an authorised traveller site near the village after B&NES Council refused to rule out the Greenbelt site from its list of proposals.

At a meeting of the Council’s Planning, Transport and Environment scrutiny committee last Thursday it was revealed that over 350 people had submitted objections to the plan to allocate land near Whitchurch village as a travellers site.

Residents from the village called on the Liberal Democrat-run authority to drop the plans, highlighting that the Council had wrongly listed and scored the site as Brownfield in Cabinet papers and Consultation documentation, when it is in fact within the Greenbelt.  However, the Council has so far stated that it still intends to take forward plans to earmark the land at Whitchurch as an authorised site.

Conservative councillors have branded the Council’s search for appropriate traveller sites a ‘shambles’ and called on the authority to re-start the whole process.

Local councillor Peter Edwards (Cons, Publow & Whitchurch) has promised to back residents in their fight against the plans.

Cllr Edwards said:

“Local residents here were astonished when B&NES Council said it is likely to drop its planned traveller sites in Keynsham, Stanton Wick and Radstock, but not Whitchurch.  The site is not suitable and the Council has admitted that it got it wrong when it said the land is Brownfield.  It is in fact Greenbelt, which should rule it out from being earmarked as an authorised site.  Once this is taken into account, the site should be ranked thirteenth rather than fifth on the Council’s scoring matrix. 

“The Council has completely mishandled this issue, and as it can see from the hundreds of objections it has received, it will have a fight on its hands with local residents if it tries to proceed with earmarking the Whitchurch site.  And I will be backing my local residents here all the way.”