TWO new potential gypsy traveller sites unveiled by Monmouthshire County Council have been branded “inappropriate” due to over development concerns in the Severnside area and road safety fears.
Bradbury Farm and Oak Grove Farm near Caldicot were put forward following a review of previously earmarked council-owned land, which saw sites dropped at Mitchel Troy Common and Manson Heights in Monmouth.
Although the local authority has identified the new alternative sites as being in Crick, the proposed Bradbury Farm site will be located on the northern perimeter of the farm in the Portskewett ward – while the Oak Grove Farm site is situated on land alongside Severn Farm in Leechpool, Portskewett.
A third site, previously announced, is also under consideration and shortlisted for public consultation at Langley Close near to the M4 in Magor.
Portskewett councillor Lisa Dymock said the council appeared to be plucking sites out of “thin air” without thorough assessment.
“The council has said the gypsy traveller sites need to accommodate a combined total of 10 or 11 pitches and that a pitch is around 320 square metres, so 10 pitches across the entire county requires less than one acre (0.7) of land,” said Cllr Dymock.
“The county has 200,000 acres, yet the Labour-led administration is proposing the only suitable sites are all within the Severnside area.
“The council’s own scrutiny committee recommended going back to the drawing board but instead, two new sites have been identified in Portskewett.
“I am doubtful that any officers or cabinet members have visited either of the sites as the one they refer to as Oakgrove Farm in Crick is 2.4 miles away from Oakgrove Farm in Caerwent. How am I supposed to believe that a thorough assessment has been carried out?
“Incorrectly identifying Portskewett ward as Caldicot East is misleading and it is disappointing the council cannot accurately pinpoint a site location. They seem thoroughly confused.”
Monmouthshire County Council has to identify potential gypsy traveller sites in the replacement local development plan (RLDP) it is currently drawing up, which sets out where new developments for housing and employment should be located across the county through to 2033.
In an area the council has dubbed Caldicot East, which also encompasses the adjoining village of Portskewett, up to 2,609 homes could be built by 2033.
Monmouth MP David Davies has joined forces with Cllr Dymock to object to the proposals and inform residents about what the council is planning in the area.
“Feedback from the gypsy traveller community was they did not wish to be sited in close proximity to built-up areas,” said Mr Davies.
“The sites proposed in Portskewett ward are inappropriate due to the volume of houses that have already been built and the 750 to 1,400 houses Portskewett could be allocated in the future, risking its identity as a village. It’s all too much in an area that is becoming overdeveloped.”
Cllr Dymock, who is particularly worried about road safety, has registered an e-petition with Monmouthshire County Council calling on the sites to be withdrawn.
She added: “The two locations in Portskewett are located on 50mph roads with blind bends. The B4245 is dangerous to pull out on, let alone walk along.
“I do not think they are suitable for the gypsy traveller community or for development of any kind. There are no safe routes to access local amenities and children will not be able to safely walk to school.”