The proposals for the expansion and refurbishment of the existing Traveller site on London Road, Twyford will be displayed at a session next week - May 15 - prior to a planning application being prepared.
Local residents and interested parties will be able to view the plans at Twyford Youth Centre, LoddonHall Road, between 3pm and 7pm on Tuesday May 15.
Over the past few months, the council has met with residents of Twyford Orchards to discuss proposals and this feedback has shaped the proposals set to be unveiled next week.
Twyford Orchards, owned and managed by the borough council, currently consists of 16 constructed pitches. However the site is overcrowded. The overcrowding has largely been a result of the expansion of the existing residents’ families, and the change to larger mobile homes from touring caravans around which the site was originally planned.
Wokingham Borough Council must comply with legislation and guidance around site facilities and standards. The expansion of the site is an opportunity to bring Twyford Orchards up to a decent standard and increase pitch numbers to alleviate the overcrowding. The increase in the pitch numbers will meet the housing needs of those currently living on the site. There is no plan to bring new Travellers onto the site.
Wokingham Borough Council has taken legal action against anyone who has pulled onto the site for the last 18 months. Last year, the borough council took proceedings in the county court to remove one family. This took a number of months and significant resources but shows the council is firm in its intention not to allow an increase in overcrowding and to manage its sites effectively.
Cllr Keith Baker, executive member for Gypsy Roma Traveller (GRT) liaison, said: “For sometime we have been aware of the overcrowding at Twyford Orchards. We’ve met with site residents over the past few months and have come up with proposals that meet their needs and will improve their living conditions. We now want to talk to the wider Twyford community to get their views on our proposals. I hope that many people will take the opportunity to come and see the plans for them elves. Representatives from the borough council will be on hand to answer any questions local people may have.
“By expanding the site, it will alleviate overcrowding by providing better spacing of pitches. We will not be allowing more families to move onto the site and we have made it clear we will take enforcement action should this happen.”
In order for the site to be expanded, the borough council is looking to acquire approximately 0.65 hectares of adjoining land. Negotiations are currently ongoing with the landowner.
It is hoped a planning application will be submitted early this summer and local residents and interested parties will have a further chance to comment during the formal public consultation period.