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10 May 2014, 11:05
Planning permission has been agreed for a temporary transit site for Gypsies and Travellers in west Dorset - on condition that 24-hour security is provided.
Dorset County Council's planning committee approved a site in Piddlehinton, near Dorchester, to help tackle the impact of unauthorised encampments around Dorset during the spring and summer months.
The same site was used successfully during the 2012 Olympic sailing events in Weymouth and Portland, and will operate March-August through to 2016.
There will be pitches for 25 caravans, with access to toilet facilities and fresh water. The council's Gypsy and Traveller liaison team will manage the site and occupants will be expected to pay rent during their stay.
Previously, a court order has been required to move people on from any unauthorised sites. The council says having official temporary accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers will enable the police to act more quickly and help reduce problems experienced by local communities across our area.
There were objections to the proposal, from Piddle Valley Parish Council, local residents, West Dorset District Cllr Jacqui Cuff and local county Cllr Jill Haynes.
The committee heard fears that the plan would spoil the local landscape, create possible conflict with the neighbouring permanent Gypsy and Traveller site and have harmful impacts on the local community and adjacent enterprise park.
However, the council says committee members felt many of these concerns could be dealt with by a condition of round-the-clock security while the site was in use. This will involve the presence of private security staff, plus permanent CCTV cameras at both entrances to the enterprise park which accesses the site.
Work will now start on the land to prepare it for use this summer. During the period of the planning permission, the county council says it will continue working with district and borough councils across Dorset to identify suitable locations for permanent transit sites.