Council to spend over £4 million on improving ‘dated and poor conditions’ of gypsy and traveller sites in Doncaster

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Thursday, 16th September 2021, 10:23 am
Updated Thursday, 16th September 2021, 1:11 pm
Gypsy and traveller site in Armthorpe

Doncaster Council will spend more than £4 million on improving ‘dated and poor conditions’ at Gypsy and Traveller sites across the borough.

Members of Mayor Ros Jones’s cabinet are expected to rubber-stamp a two year investment strategy to carry out improvements across three council-owned G&T sites.

The work will begin at the White Towers site in Armthorpe with Little Lane in Thorne and Lands End in Kirk Sandall coming afterwards.

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Gypsy and traveller site in Thorne

A report seen by councillors shows cladding material to the blocks is torn and the inner structure of the blocks ‘is exposed in places’.

On White Towers, four utility blocks have had to be demolished for safety because of their ‘condition and vandalism’. The sanitary fittings internally are also said to be aged and in poor condition.

Previous lack of investment in the existing provision of four pitches on the Armthorpe site are ‘unlettable’ and the individual amenity blocks have had to be demolished for safety reasons.

Bosses said the funding to improve the sites will cost around £4.17 million and will include new amenity blocks, new plot boundaries, landscaping and hardstanding works to individual plots, construction of new pedestrian pavement, resurfacing access roads and new fencing.

Gypsy and traveller site in Kirk Sandall

It is proposed to reconfigure the White Towers site, reducing the level of provision from 23 to 16 and improve the remaining pitches on the Lands End and Little Lane sites to bring them ‘up to modern standards’.

St Leger Homes bosses who look after the sites on behalf of the council said they have been ‘difficult to manage’ with reported ‘resistance’ from residents when trying to enforce conditions.

They add that ‘significant levels of fly-tipping’ takes place on and around the sites, particularly on the void pitches.

Council enforcement has tried to gather evidence but this has proven ‘inconclusive’. All residents, when asked, ‘deny fly-tipping on the site and any knowledge of who is responsible’, the report said.

Chris Margrave, director of property services at St Leger Homes, said: “Ensuring appropriate steps are taken to bring the sites and amenity block up to decent standards will ensure individuals can live safely in their homes.

“The Gypsy and Traveller community are one of the most excluded groups within our communities.

“It is critical that the accommodation that the council provides is modern and to decent standards.”