CONFIRMATION that a travellers site will not be placed at Watery Lane on the outskirts of Ashbourne has been given Derbyshire Dales District Council.
In a statement released last week, chief executive Dorcas Bunton said:“The announcement by Nestlé that they are not willing to lift the covenant prohibiting development at Watery Lane in Ashbourne means the district council can confirm we can no longer pursue this as a potential traveller site.
“It took a full two months from first writing to Nestle in the middle of October, requesting their views on the covenant, for the district council to receive any formal response. Nestlé’s refusal arrived on December 20 with no accompanying reasons.
“The district council was obliged to make Ashbourne ward members and other interested parties aware of this situation over the Christmas period before releasing this formal statement removing Watery Lane from the list of potential places in the Derbyshire Dales where we can fulfil our legal obligations.
“The district council has a statutory duty under housing legislation to provide a site for travellers in the Derbyshire Dales and is currently under pressure to identify a permanent site for a gypsy family camped at Bakewell Showground. A temporary site for the family has been identified in Rowsley, but this has yet to gain planning permission and no decision is likely before March.
“It was necessary for the district Council to pursue Watery Lane as a permanent site as it is in our ownership. So far as Derbyshire Dales council tax payers are concerned, Watery Lane would have been the most cost-effective option and the most appealing to the Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group (DGLG) in terms of the facilities there and the proximity of health care for a member of the traveller family that has pursued through the courts its request for a permanent site in the Dales.
“Having formally withdrawn the planning application for Watery Lane, the district council continues to work hard to identify an appropriate site in the Dales.
“Whichever site is eventually chosen, there will be local opposition. So the district council is in a no-win situation, but we cannot ignore our responsibilities and legal duties. We are further hamstrung, legally, by not being able to talk in any detail about the court judgment obtained by the traveller family in question and we hope this is not mistaken by members of the public for a lack of transparency on our part.
“A more detailed report on the remaining potential sites - already reported to the district council’s Corporate Committee on December 13 2012 - will be presented to a special meeting of the Corporate Committee on January 22. Alternative sites suggested by Derbyshire County Council are also due to be discussed.
“So councillors face an incredibly difficult decision simply to narrow down the search ahead of more detailed public consultation. After that, ultimately, the submission of a planning application for a preferred site would involve an additional phase of public consultation. Local people will continue to be consulted at all stages.”