Fears over Burnley travellers’ site plan

The site off Billington Road which has been earmarked as a travellers site.
The site off Billington Road which has been earmarked as a travellers site.
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Furious farm owners are up in arms over plans to house travellers on a piece of land near them.

Spa Wood Farm, off Rossendale Road, has been earmarked as a potential authorised camp for up to 28 caravan pitches in Burnley Council’s Local Plan.

Nearby farmers, however, are incensed that no other areas of land have been identified as possible locations and believe a travellers’ site would be the death knell for their farms.

Mr John Nottingham, who owns the adjacent farm Hillside, said the private track that leads to Spa Wood Farm cuts through his land and driveway and would make it impossible to run his farm.

“The track crosses my land and my neighbours’ land and it would make it impossible to run the farms as even just moving livestock would be incredibly difficult and dangerous.

“There would be a big increase in the amount of traffic using the track and they would not be able to ensure the safety of my children or grandchildren.”

Mr Nottingham aired his views at a meeting of Burnley Council’s Executive committee along with fellow farmers Shaun Richards, of Watson Laithe Farm and Jill Ollerton, of New Barn Farm, who also strongly opposed the idea.

In accordance with government guidance and following a study carried out by the University of Salford last year the council must provide land for travellers before 2016.

Spa Wood Farm has been identified as an existing unauthorised gypsy and traveller site but Mr Nottingham said that has never been the case.

“I have lived here for 50 years and there has only ever been one gypsy family there, which does not make it an unauthorised site. I have no problem with travellers at all but this would be too many for that site.

“I have no idea why they have not put forward other sites and have only mentioned this one. Surely it would have been better to list more. The property has been up for sale for some time but the council has told me that it will not buy the site at any price.”

The council was quick to stress that the Local Plan is only a consultative document and other sites will be looked at.

Coun. Julie Cooper, leader of Burnley Council, said: “Somewhere we have to provide spaces for travellers. No doubt other sites will be identified and this is no way written in stone. People will get the opportunity going forward to make their points about the plan. It is going to be a very long legal process.”