Opponents hope for victory in battle over travellers' tip site

VICTORY could be in sight for protesters fighting controversial plans to turn a tip in Ossett into a travellers' site.

Wakefield Council's proposals for the Ossett household waste recycling centre, in Owl Lane, have sparked concerns in both Wakefield and neighbouring Kirklees but next week councillors will discuss throwing the proposals out.

Objectors handed a 2,000-plus signature petition opposing the proposals at the recycling centre, known locally as Owl Lane tip. They are worried about the loss of a household waste site and say a former tip is not a suitable place for travellers.

The travellers site proposal is being considered as Wakefield Council draws up its Local Development Framework (LDF), a blueprint for future planning, which will help it shape development in the district over the next decade.

It allocates specific areas for development across the district, including sites to provide new homes and those suitable for business use, and also includes the designation of green belt and conservation areas to protect the local environment. It had earmarked the Owl Lane Tip as a suitable site for travellers, which prompted a public outcry.

The latest document in Wakefield's local development framework is to be considered by full council on Wednesday – but following the public outcry council officers are recommending the tip is no longer classed as being suitable for travellers in the blueprint.

All local authorities are required to produce an LDF, however following public discussions, the council is now considering changes to its planning blueprint.

Other changes include no longer including Thornes Park as a suitable site for housing and identifying additional housing sites in Castleford, including council land at Ackton Pastures. The authority received petitions signed by more than a 100 people opposing the proposal to earmark Thornes Park for housing.

A report to the councillors says: "The council needs to allocate land for 21,500 new homes up to 2022 to provide a 10-year supply of housing land from the anticipated date of adoption of the sites document in March 2012.

"Allocating less land would be challenged by land owners and developers through the examination of the document," the report adds.

The proposals will see the loss of around one per cent of land in the green belt.

The council's Cabinet member for regeneration and economic growth, Denise Jeffery, said last night: "This is an important document for providing future homes and jobs in the district.

"It has been through extensive public consultation and we have received a huge response from the public, developers and technical bodies.

"This final version takes all these comments into account and amendments have been made where appropriate such as the withdrawal of proposals for a gypsy and traveller site at Owl Lane, Ossett, and housing development in Thornes Park in Wakefield.

"However, that is not to say that wherever there have been objections to a proposal it has been amended or deleted," Coun Jeffery added.

The council is recommended to approve the submission of the document to the Secretary of State. A six-week consultation period will begin at the end of February in order to give residents a final chance to consider the proposals.

At this stage any comments should relate only to whether the proposals are based on evidence, can be delivered and are consistent with national planning policies.

Following the end of the consultation period, the document will be submitted to the Secretary of State.

A Government inspector will then be appointed to examine the document including public hearings for people who wish to make comments in person.