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Planning and Development (Cheshire)

Volume 487: debated on Thursday 29 January 2009

The Petition of residents of Cuddington and Sandiway, and others,

Declares that Vale Royal Borough Council is failing to listen and take action on the concerns of local residents regarding the flawed site selection process and public consultation for proposed gypsy and travellers sites in Vale Royal.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to put pressure on Vale Royal Borough Council firstly to place on public record that the proposed site at Chester Road, Sandiway is confirmed as unsuitable for a proposed gypsy and traveller site; secondly to halt its public consultation on proposed gypsy and traveller sites until such time as the site selection criteria can be reviewed and amended to ensure that they comply with government guidance and planning policies; and thirdly, to defer this issue until after the completion of the Regional Spatial Strategy and therefore, by definition of the timescales for the Strategy, to pass this issue to the new unitary authority of Cheshire West and Chester.

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Mr. Stephen O'Brien, Official Report, 13 November 2008; Vol. 482, c. 1057 .]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The Secretary of State acknowledges the concerns of the petitioners regarding the site selection process and public consultation for proposed gypsy and travellers sites in Vale Royal.

Successive Governments have taken the view that local authorities should be free to carry out their responsibilities with the minimum of interference from central government since they are ultimately answerable to their electors for the discharge of their duties.

I am aware that Vale Royal Borough Council went out to consultation on a number of possible sites for a gypsy and traveller site, of which the aforementioned Chester Road site in Sandiways is one. I understand that the Chester Road site is not allocated in any plans by Vale Royal but was one of those under consideration in the consultation exercise.

Decisions on planning policy for the Vale Royal area, in the transitional period up to 1 April 2009, will be made by the new shadow authority, Cheshire West & Chester, who will develop a Local Development Framework for the area covered by the new unitary authority. As a consequence, and in line with Government guidance on this issue, I would expect that it would be the new authority that will eventually develop policy on the location of gypsy and traveller sites in their Core Strategy to meet the identified need within the area. That decision will be informed, in part, by consultation exercises such as that carried out recently by Vale Royal. All those wishing to make representations against this site or any other would have opportunity to do so as it is taken through the Local Development Framework process.

Furthermore, I am also aware that the site provision for gypsies and travellers is an issue that will be considered as part of the Partial Review of the North West Regional Spatial Strategy, RSS, being conducted by 4NW, the Regional Leaders Forum for the North West of England.