Proposals for temporary Traveller sites in Thanet will be discussed by council Cabinet members – with two sites now removed from the proposals and two being brought forward.
In December approval was given for further work to assess Potten Street in St Nicholas-at-Wade, Tivoli Brook in Margate and Ramsgate Port for use as temporary tolerated stopping sites.
But both Ramsgate Port and Tivoli Brook have been removed from the plans.
Councillors will now consider the sites for Potten Street and a new addition of agricultural land off Shottendane Road in Margate.
Tivoli Brook has been removed due to “the potential commercial development and the opportunity it creates for income generation and employment,” while Ramsgate Port is scrapped from the proposals because it is “presently undergoing a feasibility study and the proposed area is in use for the storage of cars and is returning a revenue, it is also an industrialised area and not suited to families and young children.”
A new matrix to map out advantages and disadvantages now lists the land at Shottendane, with a report to councillors saying: “Over the last six months, especially considering the impact of the global pandemic there has been a significant amount of change and as part of this the council is reviewing how it delivers services in the future and how it can maximise the benefits of revenue opportunity from existing assets.
“It was therefore agreed by Cabinet to further consider agricultural land in the ownership of the council for the use as a temporary site, and that these would be assessed against those already considered and a suitable scoring exercise undertaken.”
The aim is to use the sites on a rotation basis to alleviate the issue of unauthorised camps on the isle.
Thanet currently does not have an authorised Traveller site, with the nearest being in Canterbury and Dover.
Unauthorised encampments at sites including Dane Valley, Marina Esplanade, Government Acre and the car park by Dreamland have risen sharply from two in 2013 to 55 last year.
According to a previous council report some 70 locations across Thanet have been assessed as vulnerable to vehicle based unauthorised encampments.
The report to Cabinet members says: “The two sites with the highest score were Shottendane (and Potten Street and it is therefore recommended that both these sites are taken forward as the most suitable locations subject to engagement with relevant Parish Council/Ward Members.”
A need for 7 permanent and 5 transit vehicle pitches in Thanet was identified in a study for Thanet council. Temporary tolerated pitches are when unauthorised encampments stay for an agreed amount of time.
The council says this means smoother enforcement is easier on those unauthorised encampments which chose to ignore the direction and stay on other land.
A temporary tolerated site also allows easier management of amenities such as waste collection and toilet provision, reducing the impact on the local area.
The next steps will be for TDC to create a project plan for bringing the sites forward for use including full costs, timescales, resident engagement and site operational plans.
Further approval will be sought from members to agree the budget required to deliver the plan.
Speaking of the temporary pitch proposals Joseph Jones, of the Gypsy Council, previously told The Isle of Thanet News: “It’s nice to see a positive move towards a responsibility to provide, but I still feel there is room for a permanent site too. In Leeds, Yorkshire, they have a tolerated site policy, well tried and tested and it’s good that TDC are looking in that direction.”
Councillors will discuss the proposal at a Cabinet meeting on July 30.