Solihull Council has, by law, to address allocations of Gypsy & Travellers sites. A lengthy consultation has been undertaken, especially with Parish Councils, and the (Draft) ‘Gypsy and Traveller Site Allocations – Development Plan Document’ was published in April this year. This has relevance to Blythe Ward because of Gypsy/Traveller sites, whether authorised or not, are referred to. I have posted the internet link to the document here: http://www.solihull.gov.uk/Attachments/Gypsy_and_Traveller_Site_Allocations_DPD_Submission_Draft.pdf
A site relating to Blythe Ward is ‘Uplands’ in Dickens Heath (page 24 of the document). The report states, in recommending the site for adoption ‘The Uplands is an established unauthorised site that has been present and occupied in this location for many years. It is a small family owned and occupied site located approximately 1km from Dickens Heath village centre. The site is not visually obtrusive; it is located to the rear of an existing residential property and is well screened along the side and rear boundary’. I have posted two photographs of the property from the highway, which has existing hard space for three caravans at the rear.
The site, as the report states, has been an unauthorised site and people who know the area say it has been such for about 30 years. Many people did not know the site was actually there; this is because the site is in the rear yard of a bungalow, screened from the highway and through the lack of any problems.
The council has, in law, to identify more spaces and has taken the decision to authorise this site. In doing so the council refused to allow an expansion of sites in Salter Street, in the parish of Cheswick Green. I believe this is a win-win for Blythe, with no effective change.
It is important to acknowledge the owners of the site in Dickens Heath have submitted and planning application to extend the site. This is still to be determined and not date has been set for hearing by the Planning Committee. I have posted links to the council’s planning portal for details of the planning application here: http://www.solihull.gov.uk/planning/dc/ViewApp.asp . Viewers will recognise the application is to extend the site for as many as eight caravans, whereas the council will authorise the site for three caravans only. I will monitor the situation and report back as soon as I know more – the planning application will be objected to by me.
Furthermore, the owners of the Salter Street site also submitted a planning application to extend one of the two authorised sites there. This was refused by Solihull Planning Committee and the appeal by the site owners was refused by the national planning inspector.