Plan for ‘temporary’ traveller site in Milton Keynes takes a step forward as council looks for more pitches

A temporary site could be used to house a limited number of travellers while work takes place to redevelop their homes.

Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 7:00 pm

A council committee heard that the council has to provide 19 new permanent pitches for the travelling community by 2023.

Milton Keynes Council rejected £5m plans for two completely new sites in January this year, following a public outcry.The community and housing scrutiny committee on Wednesday was told that since then the council’s sites at Calverton and Willen have been examined to see if they can be redeveloped to take more pitches.

There is a pot of government money going begging, which the council believes it would be able to get to pay for the work.

The Calverton Lane gipsy and traveller site

Council officers believe Willen and Calverton can be redeveloped, but it would mean temporarily moving families somewhere else for a limited amount of time while the work is finished.

Michael Kelleher, MK Council’s director of housing and regeneration, said: “Work is progressing and we are working up options to take forward.

“The Bottledump site is being looked at to provide a place to decant from the two sites as a temporary solution.” But he stressed that nothing had been decided yet.

The eight-pitch Bottledump site, between Tattenhoe and Newton Longville, was one of those considered for a permanent site last year. Tattenhoe residents were up in arms, as were those in Newton Leys, which had been proposed to take a new site.

Cllr Jenni Ferrans (Lib Dem, Monkston), who chairs the committee, was keen to point out that the residents of the Willen and Calverton sites are not the kind of travellers who have set up illegal encampments.

“They are all permanent residents of Milton Keynes,” she said.

But Cllr Mohammed Khan (Lab, Bletchley East) said people would still be concerned about rubbish being left around.

Mr Kelleher said that as far as other travellers were concerned, the council is working “much more effectively now. We are in a better place to respond.”

A report from Bob Fletcher, the council’s gipsy and traveller project manager, said: “Constructive dialogue is ongoing and as a result of an increased presence across both sites, the process of informal engagement, consultation, and partnership working has begun.

“At the time of writing, redevelopment options and design solutions are in the process of being drawn up with the input of residents from Willen Road. Redevelopment of Calverton Lane is currently on hold pending agreement of new road arrangements bordering the site.”