A U-TURN over plans for a traveller’s site on the outskirts of Ashbourne appears to be on the cards for Derbyshire Dales District Council.
After going so far as to apply for planning permission and even put the application on the agenda of November’s Southern Area Planning Committee, the district council has now decided to ‘explore all available options’ for the needs of a traveller family who applied to them for help under the Housing Act.
Now, the council will look at 11 possible sites, including Watery Lane, for the traveller family before seeking full public consultation and eventually planning permission for a site somewhere in the dales.
At a meeting tomorrow, members of the district council’s Environment Committee will consider the provision of a temporary site for the family at Rowsley, options for a more permanent site will be detailed to the council’s Corporate Committee on December 13.
The planning application for the stationing of five caravans for a temporary period of three years on land at Watery Lane in Ashbourne will ‘not be taken forward until councillors have considered a full list of potential site options.’ The Ashbourne site is not on the agenda for discussion at this Thursday’s meeting.
District council chief executive, Dorcas Bunton, said: “The first thing to say is that while we absolutely understand the sensitivities that surround this issue, the district council has a legal responsibility to discharge its duty with regard to traveller families.
“We cannot simply ignore an application for assistance.
“The traveller family has refused an offer from us of a bricks and mortar home on the grounds that this would not suit their lifestyle.
“We are obliged to consider this.
“The district council also has a duty to consider a list of 11 possible sites presented to us by the Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group — sites they believe would be most suitable for this traveller family.
“While not all the proposed sites are owned by the district council — and that is significant - we have listened to the representations from local people.
“Councillors will have the opportunity on December 13 to consider all available options, including Watery Lane.
“Should councillors decide any of the options are worthy of further exploration, full public consultation would take place, followed by an application for planning approval.”