Traveller site set to get £1m grant

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A TRAVELLER site in Great Finborough could be improved using a grant of nearly £1 million awarded to Mid Suffolk District Council (MSDC) last week.

If MSDC wins an appeal to buy The Forge caravan site, in Combs Lane, a £932,850 grant from the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) would be used to improve the site’s pitches and facilities.

A partnership between MSDC and Orwell Housing Association, which would manage the site, would see the number of pitches reduced in line with current guidelines, from 19 to 12, although it is thought the site has never been used at full capacity.

Cllr Marilyn Curran, portfolio holder for housing at MSDC, said: “The funding will be used for 12 pitches and also day rooms for each pitch, a children’s play area and the necessary works for drainage and improving access to the site.”

The site, which was granted planning permission as a travellers’ site in April 1982, has been at the centre of disagreements between landowner Levi Gumble and MSDC for years.

A spokeswoman for MSDC said the council was forced to seek a compulsory purchase order (CPO) in January last year for several reasons,, including concern over its lack of use, history of poor facilities and lack of affordable pitches in Mid Suffolk.

Eric Pickles, secretary of state for Communities and Local Government is expected to make a final decision on the appeal hearing, held last month, within the next 12 weeks.

Cllr Curran said: “It’s proposed the funding will be used to bring the site up to the standard set out in the CLG good practice design guide.”

The Government has announced £60 million of funding to provide hundreds of new authorised pitches, as well as better facilities for travellers on official sites.