Clearance work has started to create a safer and well managed permanent traveller site at Haldon Ridge.
The nine-month sensitively phased programme of construction work will create a 15-pitch site next door to the current and unauthorised traveller site. It follows years of work to find a suitable and healthy solution for site residents, nearby communities, the wider Haldon area and all local authorities. The project will give those residents who want a pitch at the new site access to suitable utilities including toilets, showers, power, bin stores and recycling facilities.
It is due for completion in July 2014. Work involves ground and tree clearance, putting in utilities, creating pitches, clearing any debris and carefully returning the original site to its natural woodland state.
People who move on to the neighbouring new site will sign an agreement to lease a pitch, pay rent and Council Tax. A site manager will be employed by Teign Housing to deal with any issues if they arise.
Cllr Philip Vogel, Teignbridge District Council’s Executive Spokesperson for Housing and Planning, said: “All the hard work is paying off and we are pleased that work has started. It’s been a long and sensitive process. There will be challenges ahead – as there always are when embarking on something new – but we are confident that, through working with the site’s residents and all our partner agencies, we can create a safe and sustainable that meets people’s needs.”
Mike Hanrahan of Teign Housing said: “We are looking forward to making a really good and well managed site for travellers. We hope that by seeing the site take shape, it will reassure the travellers and the public that this is the right way forward and that it will restore and enhance this area of Haldon forest.”
The project has been supported by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), who have worked closely with partners and agreed an investment of around £1.1m in the new site. Asad Butt, HCA Area Manager, said: “We welcome the progress that has been made to start work on a new scheme for travellers in Haldon, which will provide improved accommodation for the people living at the current site.
“This investment is part of a wider programme that provides new and better accommodation for travellers across England. It is good news that partners have made positive steps to enable work to start.”
The unauthorised site is on land owned by Devon County Council. It has long been considered unsuitable for those who live there, the local environment and surrounding communities. It will close on the day the new encampment opens. Teignbridge and Devon County Council will work with residents who do not want to move to the new site to look at other housing options. If they remain on the unauthorised site after the closing date, enforcement action will be taken if necessary.