Leicester site in Hoods Close back on agenda as a gypsy and travellers' camp
A group of councillors has urged Leicester's mayor to build three gypsy and travellers' sites in one part of the city – and ditch one of his original chosen locations.
A Leicester City Council scrutiny commission was asked by Sir Peter Soulsby to review his choice of three sites – at Redhill Way, in Abbey ward, and Greengate Lane and Beaumont Way, in Beaumont Leys – as legal permanent camps.
The sites initially selected sparked protests from hundreds of people living nearby.
The commission has now recommended camps are still built at Redhill Way and Greengate Lane, but it suggested the Beaumont Way site be dropped in favour of land near Hoods Close, off Thurcaston Road, in Leicester's Abbey ward.
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The Hoods Close land has been used by travellers in the past and, while it was not on Sir Peter's final shortlist of three sites, it had appeared on an earlier list of eight potential plots.
The three recommended sites are all north of the city, within a few miles of each other.
Councillor Sue Waddington, chairman of the economic development, culture and tourism scrutiny commission, said: "My conclusion is that two of the three sites on their final shortlist would be suitable for use as permanent gypsies and travellers' sites.
"These are at Redhill Way and Greengate Lane. Both are of the right size, are well screened and are not too close to residential streets. I do not consider the area at Beaumont Way to be suitable. It is much too small and exposed and would be difficult, if not impossible, to screen.
"However, I strongly recommend that Hoods Close off Thurcaston Road be considered as a transit site.
"It is of the right size and nature to be used as a transit site for about six pitches, is not near residential developments, and has been a popular stopping-off site for travellers and gypsies in the past."
She also recommended that any future sites be located outside the Beaumont Leys and Abbey wards.
Coun Waddington added that the council does not own anymore land suitable for gypsy camps, so would need to acquire sites for future use, if needed.
Sir Peter said he was pleased with the commission's work.
He added: "They have worked very hard and I am thankful for that.
"The findings are extremely valuable, and I will be considering them closely as part of the wider consultation.
"I think the recommendation that there be no more sites within Beaumont Leys and Abbey is a very sensible suggestion to make."
The report of recommendations will the discussed at a meeting at Leicester town hall next Thursday.
They will be considered by Sir Peter, along with views submitted as part of a public consultation, which ends on July 13.
He will make a final decision shortly after that. To take part in the consultation, visit: www.leicester.gov.uk/gypsyandtravellersites/