Leeds City Council has moved reduce the need for unlawful Traveller encampments by establishing a small site at Kidacre Street, near to Crown Point Shopping Centre in Hunslet.
It is understood that this is a temporary measure whilst the existing permanent site at Cottingley Springs on Gelderd Road is expanded. Over recent months Travellers have set up camp on Brown Lane East by the former Matthew Murray school site, on the former South Leeds Sports Centre site and at the John Charles Centre for Sport. Gipsies and Travellers have a long connection with South Leeds, visiting regularly and many settling in the area.
Leeds City Council is seeking to end a cycle of encampment and eviction for Travellers in the city by using a location at Kidacre Street which has been empty for a number of years.
The council has developed a plan to expand the current Cottingley Springs Travellers site and, subject to a planning inquiry, this can provide around 12 more permanent pitches. In the meantime, because Kidacre Street is a site that has lain empty for a number of years, the council believes it is the best site available to provide an interim solution.
The council has said it is keen to meet concerns raised by local communities, as well as trying to provide suitable places for Travellers to stay, also reducing the costs for arranging alternative pitches and evictions.
Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council executive board member with responsibility for neighbourhoods, planning and support services said:
“We realise there is never going to be a perfect solution which fully meets everyone’s needs, but Kidacre Street is close to amenities for Travellers to use, while at the same time providing an alternatives to the recent unlawful encampments elsewhere in the city. The council have worked with as many of those who could be affected by this plan as possible, including representatives of the Gypsy and Traveller community, local businesses and others who have been affected by encampments elsewhere in the city.
“We know how frustrating the situation is for everyone involved and have made every effort to find solutions which achieve the most possible agreement. I hope this short term solution will make a difference and I look forward to making more progress following the judgement about Cottingley Springs from the Secretary of State, which we hope to see later in the year.”
The space at Kidacre Street, south of the city centre, has been cleared and will provide room for a number of Travellers to station their caravans. The council are also committed to an intensive approach to policing, anti-social behaviour and refuse disposal. The Council is additionally making sure there is an accessible route for ongoing dialogue with local businesses.
What do you think? Is this the right site? Should we have more small scale managed sites in South Leeds?