Neighbours fight bid for ‘permanent’ cottages on travellers’ site

BUILDING SITE ... West Pastures in West Boldon, which could soon be home to 12 new buildings.
BUILDING SITE ... West Pastures in West Boldon, which could soon be home to 12 new buildings.

A PLANNING row has broken out over a bid to build 12 permanent ‘cottages’ on a South Tyneside travellers’ site.

An application has been lodged with South Tyneside Council for the dozen four- metre-high brick buildings, to be built on land at West Pastures, off Newcastle Road in West Boldon.

They will be used by travellers on the site to provide kitchen and bathroom facilities, utility storage and general living space.

At the moment, the area is only a temporary travellers’ site. However, if council officials do approve the new builds, then it will be classed as a permanent travellers’ site.

Some local residents are unhappy with the plans and ‘warning’ leaflets have been put out in West Boldon.

The leaflets state: “Voice your opinion as South Tyneside Council has not informed residents in the area about their intention to pass this application within the next few weeks.”

A Town Hall spokesman said it has already written to residents and placed site notices in the area highlighting the proposals.

But one pensioner, who received a copy of the anonymous leaflet, said: “Nobody had heard anything of these plans to build buildings on the land.

“My neighbours, and myself included, don’t see why it should be given the go-ahead. Surely permanent buildings go against the point of these travellers being called travellers.

“If they’re doing that much moving around, why do they need a permanent base in South Tyneside? Why
can’t they buy or rent a house like the rest of us have to, and pay all the relevant taxes?”

Heine Planning Consultancy, representing the travellers, stressed in the application how important it was they have access to amenities in each of their caravan’s plots.

It read: “These facilities are deemed to be essential especially, as in this case, where the site occupants are highly mobile and continue to live in small touring caravans which often lack these essential facilities.

“Even static caravans fail to provide space for washing machines, dryers, baths or freezers and many of these appliances would not be placed in a caravan for fear of 
the damage done if they should leak.

“These are everyday appliances the rest of society take for granted.

“Many travellers also have a cultural aversion to using toilets within the caravans where they sleep and live.

“In addition, it is recommended that amenity buildings include a sitting area where families can gather together and socialise and it is clearly intended that amenity buildings have a domestic appearance and provide room for indoor recreational space for children and somewhere cosy for the elderly to rest during the day.”

A spokesman from South Tyneside Council added: “Since the application was received, the council has written to residents neighbouring the site providing them with information about the planning application, and how they can make representations.

“Site notices have also been put up along West Pastures, letting people know about the submission.

“The application will be considered by the council’s planning committee over the coming weeks, and all representations received will be reported to the committee and taken into account when making the decision.”

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