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Plan to make Devon beauty spot UK's first official New Age traveller site

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 14, 2012

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A Devon beauty spot could become home to the country's first official New Age traveller site.

Controversial plans have been unveiled to legalise the traveller encampment and build a large new woodland site at Haldon Forest, near Exeter.

The two-acre area of land, within the parish of Kenn, could become the permanent dwelling for 15 traveller families.

The site, which is an Area of Great Landscape Value and a Site of Special Scientific Interest, would include concrete pitches, amenity buildings, a health centre, a play area for children, parking for visitors and a new road.

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Social housing provider Teign Housing has been given a grant of £1.15 million for the site.

But no planning application has so far been submitted to Teignbridge District Council.

In 2001 the travellers created a temporary camp in a picnic area of the forest, but were never moved on by authorities despite public concern.

The camp, which has no running water and no electricity or sanitation, already houses more than 25 families.

Nearby residents have expressed concerns about the build in the popular area, which attracts more than 300,000 visitors a year.

Dudley Swain, chairman of Dunchideock parish council, said he had "mixed feelings" about the proposals.

He said: "The travellers are living in terrible, astounding conditions – something needs to be done. They've put it into the melting pot. But is this the right kind of thing for Haldon Forest? I, along with many other residents, am worried."

John May, chairman of Ashton Parish Council, said: "There is a worry that not only will we see overspill and 'Haldon 2' emerging, but that many will see this as a green light to do the same thing. In effect, it rewards those who break the rules."

Howard Milton, chairman of Kenn Parish Council, said:

"We have an opportunity to regenerate the existing site, provide low-impact, environmentally friendly homes for the travellers, make sure the area is pleasant and available to the local communities and we can achieve all this by using Government money."

The Reverend Roger Redding, chairman of South West Alliance of Nomads, said: "Authorities spend more money evicting travellers from inappropriate places than building new sites."

He added: "Many of the fears about travellers are unfounded. They live separate lives out of sight and mind."

The £100,000 application cost would be shared by Teignbridge District Council, Devon County Council, and Teign Housing.

A District Council spokesman said: "We have never shied away from trying to resolve this very sensitive but complex issue."

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  • Hydra1  |  November 16 2012, 2:52PM

    Lots of idiots speaking untruths here. I will address the foolish lies one by one. 1 - The land is NOT being GIVEN to anyone. A housing association wish to turn it into a travellers site. If it becomes an official travellers site, the travellers, like everyone else on official traveller sites will probably have to pay rent and/or council tax, perhaps in contrast to what happens now so they are hardly being GIVEN anything. 2 - I can't believe people are saying 'travellers have lots of money' It's hardly worth arguing with this as it is such a thick statement. I have met many travellers across all the travelling groups, I have spoken with, eaten with and had real dealings with a wide variety of travelling people and from my first hand experience can tell you I havn't met many wealthy new travellers. I don't believe the people who made those statements could possibly have had so much as a passing look at the travellers living in Haldon Forest, if they had they would realise how idiotic their statements sound. 3 - A lot of people saying the travellers should buy their own land with all this imaginary money they are supposed to have. Would you buy your own land for many thousands of pounds if you knew there was no way in hell you would get planning permission? Travellers occupy land that doesn't belong to them for having no other choice. This development is not 'rewarding people for breaking the rules' but instead goes some way to acknowledging that non house-dwelling people have been marginalised by legislation which has increasingly made it difficult for them to stop anywhere legally or obtain planning permission on their own land leaving them no option but to 'break the rules'. I would break any rule if it seemed to be written with the sole intention of getting rid of me and denying me my way of life, wouldn't you? The settled population hate travellers so much precisely because the travellers represent everything they ain't.

  • dummyboy  |  November 14 2012, 2:18PM

    and how do they get there money a!?! they do this until idiots give them land which they sell for profits! im just gonna find some land and claim it as mine until they give it to me, pay no council tax and see what happens!

  • FineExeter  |  November 14 2012, 12:18PM

    I'd not like to think of anybody going homeless - but why should travellers be given land? We have hundereds of homeless people around Devon and we dont just give them somewhere to stay. Like previous comments state, they are by no means poor. If they no longer wish to be travellers and want a permanent location - they need to do as the rest of society do and sort where they live themselves Why are we so tolerating of people who think they can just dump themselves anywhere without thought?

  • exebomb  |  November 14 2012, 10:34AM

    I knew a traveller family who had one of these "permanent dwelling" they spent 6 months a year traviling looking for work and so did all thier friends and family. so whats the point? its just going to upset everyone close by, travellers arnt poor by any means if a group of them wanted a site they could easily bankroll it themselves then what they do there is thier own business

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  • Wyrdsister1  |  November 13 2012, 5:03PM

    This is a very lare area of 'amenity' land and the travellers only occupy a fraction of it. In over ten years I imagine there have been fewer problems here than in many places where the sedentary population choose to live, though I am sure there has been damage to certain people's sensibilities. If 300,000 people a year are visiting the area, the traveller site evidently isn't that offputting. As there are apparently 25 families living there, I am more concerned about the ten families who will be made homeless if a site is approved for only 15 pitches.

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  • FineExeter  |  November 13 2012, 12:14PM

    Totally agree with you wossup, how can travellers be given a permanent place to live? Why should hundreds of people like me struggle to save for a house deposit, when travellers are given beautiful land to live on - without evening earning the right?! If i decided to just pitch/park up in some random spot i can guarantee i'd be moved on within hours. Absolute joke. If you want to live somewhere permanently get a house like the rest of us - or heres an idea - buy your own land!!!!!!!

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  • wossup  |  November 13 2012, 10:57AM

    Am I missing something here, "permanent" dwellings for traveller families?? how on this earth can they be travellers if this is permanent, ridiculous.

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