A NUMBER of gypsy and traveller pitches stand empty in Stratford district – but council chiefs are still set to create more.
Often a source of controversy as many permanent residents do not want the sites on their doorstep, the council has some 75 pitches, some of which are owned privately – but 21 of them are currently sat dormant.
In 2014 the district council announced it was set to create a further 71 pitches by 2031 as part of its mandatory Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan – which would have meant 146 pitches in the district.
A recent Warwickshire County Council assessment however concluded only 18 more were needed, to create a total of 93 pitches, which could potentially leave even more standing vacant.
But the district council has defended its decision to create the extra 18 pitches while approaching a third of the existing ones remain empty.
A council spokeswoman told the Observer: “The revised numbers take into account vacancy rates and are based on number of sites with temporary permission, ‘concealed households’ – where more than one family live – and projected household growth.
“So while the overall numbers have fallen, there is still an outstanding need.”
The council is required by government to assess the needs of gypsies, travellers and showpeople and prepare a plan as to how these will be met.
Stratford currently houses the largest public pitch site in Warwickshire, with space for 30 gypsies or travellers in Pathlow.
The remaining 44 pitches – in Tredington, Bidford, Welford, Warmington, Broom and Black Hill – are all privately owned.
The Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment, which was carried out by the county council last year, looked into the history and growth of the traveller community over the previous ten years.
They interviewed nearly 50 members of the traveller community to create their findings, with 19 others saying they had no accommodation need.
The report stated: “Over the last five years there has not been any real growth in the population of gypsies and travellers in the district. Although a number of planning applications have been granted, these have yet to be occupied.
“Over the last three years a number of encampments have caused a disturbance within Stratford town centre and particularly around the leisure centre.
“Of the 12 families interviewed, none of them indicated a need for a permanent site but stated they would welcome a transit site which they could stay on for a week or maybe two.”