Study finds traveller pitch demand halved

The number of extra traveller pitches needed in South Cambridgeshire in the next two decades has been more than halved by new research.

An independent study finding demand for the lion’s share of the region’s additional plots up to 2031 would be in the villages around Cambridge was branded “absolutely diabolically bad” by the district council last year, and the figures have been revisited.

Cllr Mark Howell, cabinet member for housing, has approved a new assessment which states only 20 further pitches will be required to accommodate growing traveller families, rather than 47 as previously stated.

This is a reduction of 57 per cent, although in addition the council expects to have to make arrangements for residents of the 65 plots in South Cambridgeshire which currently have temporary planning permission.

The last study was criticised by councillors as it expected districts which have the largest proportion of traveller sites to take the majority of future growth, and did not allow demand to shift around the county.

Cllr Howell told the News: “People living in South Cambridgeshire quite rightly expect elected councillors to question any assumptions made in reports, and the review of this independent study is a prime example of why it is important to do so.

“The number of new gypsy and traveller pitches is very small compared to the growth in accommodation for the settled community, but nonetheless working future plans on an independent report that is incorrect would not have been in the best interests of all residents.”

The new study, carried out by district council officers, is based on estimates of the growth in the traveller population, offset by expected turnover on existing pitches.

Other councils accepted the results of the original study, which said more than 300 more pitches would be needed across the Cambridge region by 2031.

Alongside South Cambridgeshire’s contribution of 85, demand for 53 pitches is expected in Huntingdonshire, plus 38 in East Cambridgeshire, 30 in Forest Heath, two in Fenland and one in Cambridge itself.

Cllr Howell said the next step was to consider where plots should go.

He said: “A full consultation on the local plan will take place between July and September to make sure residents’ views are taken on board.”

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