Councillors approve £4 million spend to improve ‘dated and poor conditions’ of Doncaster’s gypsy and traveller sites
Senior councillors have agreed to spend more than £4 million on new facilities for gypsy and traveller sites across Doncaster in order to meet government standards.
Members of Mayor Ros Jones’s cabinet agreed a two-year investment strategy to carry out improving ‘dated and poor conditions’ 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.
A report seen by councillors shows cladding material to the blocks is torn and the inner structure of the blocks ‘is exposed in places’.
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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.
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.
Speaking at a recent cabinet meeting, deputy mayor Glyn Jones, cabinet member for housing, said: “This strategy seeks to ensure that as a council we meet our statutory obligations to provide an appropriate number of gypsy and traveller pitches that are well maintained and include appropriate amenities.
“According to government guidance, such amenities need to include a hot and cold water supply, electricity supply, separate toilet, hand basins, a shower/bathroom and a kitchen and dining area.
“Overall, we will retain 48 pitches, and this is considered to be a reasonable number, to ensure that as a borough, we comply with the applicable national planning regulations.”
Coun Jane Nightingale, cabinet member for corporate resources, added: “I’m delighted to see that we are meeting our legal implications as a council. By doing this, we’re ensuring that we have sufficient pitches for our Gypsy and Traveller communities that are the required standard in the borough.”