Published: 13:00, 09 May 2014
| Updated: 13:36, 09 May 2014
Proposals to create a new travellers' site in Shoreham are upsetting residents.
Around 50 protesters picketed a meeting of Sevenoaks District Council last night to voice their opposition to plans to place a 15-pitch camp on a field off Mesne Way.
Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon (Con) has come out in support of the residents saying that the 2.7 hectare plot at Timberden Farm was “quite unsuitable” for a traveller camp. The site is in the greenbelt and in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Mr Fallon said: “I have sent my strong objections to the leader of the council.”
The district council is in the process of preparing a new Gypsy and Traveller Plan and believes there is a need to find room for 72 more travellers’ pitches by 2026.
The Shoreham site is one of a number suggested in a draft plan that is shortly to go out to consultation.
Shoreham Parish Council and the Shoreham Society have already raised objections.
Another proposal, for 15 pitches at Enterprize Way, Edenbridge, was immediately withdrawn, because councillors decided it would be better allocated for housing development. A council spokesman assured residents that no decision on Shoreham had yet been taken and the views submitted during the consultation would be fully considered, but residents said that even if the plan were eventually scrapped, that fact that it has been suggested at all had already blighted the village.
Planners said that if the council did not make allocations to meet the perceived demand for pitches, it would become more difficult to take action against any illegal camps that sprang up.
A number of the sites in the plan had in fact already been granted temporary permission for caravans and the policy would simply involve making that permission permanent.
They include 12 pitches near Knockholt Station, five at Hilltop Farm, Farningham, and four at Eagles Farm, West Kingsdown.
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