Star travellers’ site gets go-ahead by one vote

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Controversial plans for a Gypsy and Travellers site near Gaerwen have been given the go ahead.

The proposals for ten pitches on farmland beside the A5 at Star had been rejected last month by councillors, despite being recommended by Anglesey planners. But permission was granted at the second time of asking following a narrow vote on Wednesday.

It will be the first official permanent site on the island for travellers – but the plans have been strongly opposed by local residents.

Over 1500 people have signed a petition by the local community council – they have described the land as ”unsuitable, wet and dangerous”.

The committee vote was deadlocked at 5-5, before the deciding vote was cast by its chair, Llangefni councillor Nicola Roberts (Plaid) in favour of allowing the site to go ahead, prompting an angry response from some members in the public gallery.

Aethwy councillor Meirion Jones (Plaid), told the meeting that ‘nothing had changed’ since the plan was initally rejected: ”Local people have said all along that this site isn’t fit for anyone to live. The opposition is based on principle which includes planning concerns….I urge you to stick to your guns and refuse this, allowing officers to go back to the drawing board and come up with a better plan.”

Bro Aberffraw councillor Bryan Owen (Anglesey Independents) described the proposed site as a ”dangerous sandwich”, adding: ”These travellers deserve a safe place on the island, but a site sandwiched between the A5 and A55? I wouldn’t want this on my conscience…there is no way this site is appropriate and there are much better locations on the island that could be used.”

But planning officer Dewi Francis said concerns about noise levels around the site had been misinterpreted: ”We consider the environmental factors have been given sufficient attention…we don’t feel the concerns outweigh the merits of the application and having considered all factors, refusing on the basis of noise would be difficult upon appeal.”

And Talybolion councillor Ken Hughes (Anglesey Independents) said opponent members were thinking of ”every excuse under the sun” to turn down the application.

Despite the initial rejection, the plans were heard again before the committee as the decision went against the recommendation by council officials. The local authority argued for permission to be granted so that a suitable site can be developed and created in a ‘reasonable’ timescale.

Under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, all 22 local authorities are legally required to provide accommodation for the Gypsy and Traveller communities.

Council chief executive Gwynne Jones said: “The site chosen has been subject to various assessments and officers have had to balance the needs of local residents and the county council’s legal responsibilities.”

He added: “There are currently no official sites for Gypsies and Travellers on Anglesey. This has led to regular unauthorised encampments.”

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