Council pause Gypsy and Travellers site plans following public consultation backlash

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a Gypsy and Travellers site in Ellesmere Port have been put on hold.

Cheshire West and Chester Council had originally proposed developing a transit site at Foxfields.

But a public backlash has left the council reconsidering the plans and a proposed planning meeting on the development, scheduled for October 24, will not take place.

The news has been welcomed by Ellesmere Port and Neston Labour MP Justin Madders, who said in a statement that “tangible issues” render the site unsuitable for such a development, and by the Ellesmere Port Residents Steering Group, which said the community had been “in panic” over the proposals.

In a statement read during Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Cllr Angela Claydon, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “Following proposals from a cross-party members’ working group, Cabinet agreed on July 11 to develop a planning application for a transit site for Gypsy and Travellers at Foxfields in Ellesmere Port.

“As part of the application process we conducted a public consultation. The consultation process has raised a significant number of issues and concerns from the local community. It has also created local tensions, often built on mis-conceptions of the nature of the proposals, but which have created risks to good community relations in the local area.

“We have important statutory obligations to meet the housing needs of the Gypsy and Traveller population.

“Community cohesion and the need to bring all members of our community together are also key responsibilities of this council. We have been listening carefully to some of the concerns of the local community.

“In light of this I have asked council officers to put on hold all further progress with this application.

“The planning committee meeting planned for October 24 will not now take place.

“I propose that we now progress that process, in a spirit of collaboration and transparency, and bring further reports to a future meeting of Cabinet.

“I want to thank the residents and local businesses who engaged constructively in the recent consultation, and our officers for conducting a challenging process with commitment and professionalism.”

Following the statement, Mr Madders said: “I am pleased that the council has acted on my concerns and listened to the views of residents and local businesses by withdrawing this proposal from the planning process.

“I am also pleased to see that a full review of the wider issue will now take place.

“It seems that the cross-party committee which made the original recommendation to use the Foxfields site were not in possession of all of the facts when they made their decision. Since that decision tangible issues have emerged that render that site unsuitable. I hope that the review will ensure that a situation like this cannot arise again in future.

“Finally, I would like to pay tribute to Cllr Diane Roberts, who has been a fantastic advocate for her residents throughout this process.”

A spokesperson for the Ellesmere Port Residents Steering Group said: “The residents steering group is delighted that this proposal will not go ahead.

“We would like to thank our amazing MP Justin Madders for listening to our concerns and taking them forward. The news is welcomed throughout our community.

“Our community has been in panic for numerous weeks due to the site being at complete odds with the current investment and regeneration happening in Ellesmere Port.

“The outcome for us couldn’t be better. It’s a brilliant illustration of people power at its best and how a community can work together. We are delighted our concerns have been listened to.

“The council should ensure businesses and local residents are consulted prior to applying for planning permission as many feel cheated by CWAC and would like assurances this site will not be considered at anytime in the future.”

 

This article originally appeared on The Standard

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