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West Sussex to get first transit site for travellers
5:00am Friday 21st February 2014 in News
Travellers could soon have their first transit site in West Sussex.
A site proposed for a council depot in Westhampnett near Chichester has been given a £630,000 grant and a planning application has been submitted.
West Sussex hopes it can replicate the success of its neighbour East Sussex, which has seen a significant reduction in the amount of unauthorised encampments after creating a transit site in Southerham, near Lewes.
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Planning permission is now being sought to change the use of the land from depot use, to use as a transit site to accommodate up to nine short-stay pitches.
The full planning application has been submitted this week and a decision is expected within the next few months.
Councillor Josef Ransley, cabinet member for support services at Chichester District Council, said: “We are very pleased we have successfully accessed funding towards the scheme from the Homes and Communities Agency. The remaining costs will be split between all of the councils across West Sussex.
“It is a delicate balance we are facing.
“We have to balance the needs of the local community and the needs of the gypsy and traveller population.
“Our district alone had 51 unauthorised encampments in the last year and there were more across the county which incurred significant cost and disruption to the taxpayer and local landowners.
“Research and evidence shows that there is a clear gap in provision for a transit site to help manage unauthorised encampments.
“We believe that this transit site is the best solution to assist with the problem of unauthorised encampments as it will provide an appropriate stopping site for the gypsy and traveller community, reduce disruption to our local communities and provide the police with greater powers to take action.
“We want to make sure that local residents are kept informed and involved throughout this process.”
It comes as Brighton and Hove City Council threatened to evict a group of travellers from Wilson Avenue, despite having a transit site in Horsdean.
The group of vehicles left on Tuesday after camping at Stanley Deson Leisure Centre.
The council had visited the site with the police and were in the process of applying to the court for a possession order in order to evict the travellers but they left of their own volition.