West Lancashire Borough Council is taking another look at ways to meet the needs of the travelling community. At its meeting on Tuesday 18 March Cabinet did not approve the officers’ recommendation that the report ‘Provision for Traveller Sites Development Plan Document: Options and Preferred options’ be approved for public consultation. Cabinet resolved:That the Assistant Director Planning explore the possibility of identifying a single deliverable site in a suitable and sustainable location along the M58 corridor to meet the Borough’s identified needs for Travelling communities (excluding travelling showpeople) to 2028 in a way which minimises the impact on the Borough’s Green Belt and the non-travelling community. This item is subject to call in from members of the Executive Overview and Scrutiny Committee. If this item is called in no action will be taken on this item until after it has been considered by the Executive Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 3 April. Cabinet took this decision because the sites identified in the report as preferred sites for travellers were in the Green Belt, and members were concerned about the cumulative loss of Green Belt across the borough by having several sites. Cabinet believe it would be better to have one site, as this would minimise the impact on the Green Belt. Given that the Council would now be looking to have a single site for Travelling communities (excluding travelling showpeople) they felt this should be along the M58 corridor to make it easily accessible. As a result of this decision the Development Plan Document considered by Cabinet will not be subject of a consultation exercise in April – May 2014. This means there are currently no sites earmarked as preferred options for the Travelling communities. The Assistant Director Planning will undertake the exercise required by Cabinet and submit a further report to Cabinet in due course. The authority is required by national planning policy to ensure that enough sites in West Lancashire are made available to meet the needs of the travelling community. At the current time, no sites within West Lancs are allocated by the Local Plan for use by Travellers. If the Council does not comply with this obligation, and allocate suitable and deliverable sites, it will be more vulnerable to the establishment of illegal encampments and sites in the Borough. The lack of allocated sites weakens the ability of the Council to take quick and effective action to secure the removal of such illegal encampments and sites.
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