Fight goes on to remove traveller site from Local Plan

Community leaders and Stoneyholme residents present a petition to Coun. Gordon Birtwistle on the steps of Burnley Town Hall

Community leaders and Stoneyholme residents present a petition to Coun. Gordon Birtwistle on the steps of Burnley Town Hall

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Controversial plans which could see a travellers site built next to a primary school are being opposed by parents and community leaders.

Burnley’s historic Local Plan document, which sets out where development will take place in the borough over the next 15 years, identified Oswald Street, a former gasworks site next to Stoneyholme Primary School, as a possible location for five pitches for the gypsy and traveller community.

But the decision sparked anger in Stoneyholme and three public speakers addressed the full council last week with their concerns.

Despite this, and a 500-name petition being handed to the council, the vote to move the Local Plan to the next stage of consultation was passed.

Former ward councillor and current governor of Stoneyholme Primary School, Mr Mozaquir Ali, vowed the fight was not over.

Mr Ali, who addressed the council, represented 12 organisations including the school, local mosques and community groups.

He said: “Residents were not consulted on the proposal, people were not aware of the consultation, hence not many turned up at the consultation meeting.

“Therefore we were denied an opportunity to express our views. The consultation process was at best not organised properly or widely publicised, and at worst the process was a total shambles.

“We are not against the gypsy or the traveller community as they are a minority community just as the residents in this area are, and thus we have every sympathy with them.

“It is in their interest and ours that we are fiercely against this site simply because of its location and unsuitability.”

Mr Ali went on to say that three other sites included in the first draft of the Local Plan – Lawrence Avenue, Heald Road and Marlborough Street – had been considered excellent sites by independent planners.

He added: “Our strong opposition is based on the inadequacy and inappropriateness of the site in a dead-end location, badly contaminated with very restricted access through Oswald Street, which has historic traffic problems.”

Residents now plan to make representation to the Independent Inspector with a view to get this site excluded from the Burnley Local Plan.