Swanley could be surrounded by new gypsy pitches, residents fear

Swanley could be surrounded by new gypsy pitches, residents fear

This site at Valley Park in Lower Road, Hextable, could be set to expand by five pitches.

Coun Mark Fittock.

Coun Victor Southern.

First published in News
Last updated
News Shopper: Photograph of the Author by , reporter

A group of Swanley residents and councillors fear the town could be surrounded by new gypsy pitches under proposals announced by Sevenoaks District Council.

The authority proposes to site 20 extra permanent pitches in and around Swanley by 2026 with sites in Crockenhill, Hextable, Farningham and West Kingsdown under consideration.

This would involve adding seven entirely new permanent pitches, and making 13 existing temporary ones into permanent dwellings.

Sevenoaks has suggested 13 possible sites for 71 new pitches as part of a public consultation into its Gypsy and Traveller Plan.

Bob Alexander lives in Pinks Hill near a temporary site at Robertsons Nursery in Goldsel Road just outside Crockenhill which would become permanent under the plans.

He said: "It should be noted of the 13 proposed site options, five are situated virtually on the doorstep of Swanley - Crockenhill, Farningham, Hextable and Swanley itself.

"Being cynical, why am I getting the feeling that Sevenoaks District Council is a bit NIMBY about these sites when the nearest one to them is at Shoreham?

"No site in Sevenoaks? Are we to believe there are no open spaces in closer proximity to Sevenoaks itself for a travellers’ site?"

The council proposes to make the existing temporary pitch at the Robertsons Nursery site into a permanent one.

A pitch should be capable of accommodating one family and should have room for a trailer caravan, a touring caravan, a small amenity building, a small garden and parking for two vehicles.

Swanley town councillor for Christchurch ward, Victor Southern, has registered his strong opposition to the plans in a letter to Sevenoaks District Council.

He told News Shopper: "They are being ridiculously protective of Sevenoaks as though they are a much better class of people and having a gypsy encampment near Sevenoaks would destroy property values.

"My objection is to them putting more of these in Swanley and Hextable on the basis we already have a preponderance of them.

"I can’t see any reason whatsoever why they can’t site them in Sevenoaks.

"Swanley doesn’t have a lot of empty space - it is the most jam-packed part of the Sevenoaks constituency."

Labour representative for St Mary’s ward, Coun Mark Fittock, added: "My concern is that we seem to be surrounding Swanley with gypsy sites which were formerly unauthorised but are now going to be given permanent status.

"These individual one or two caravans probably won’t make that much difference to the town but our experience is that when sites are allowed, they either get retrospective planning permission for more pitches or by default they get an extension of their size so they just increase and increase."

Sevenoaks District Council stressed the sites are only suggested ones as part of a target to establish 72 additional pitches by 2026, which the authority is required to do by law.

The other six sites the council has earmarked for expansion are in Ash, Edenbridge, Farningham, Halstead and Shoreham.

A council spokesman said: “The proposed gypsy/traveller pitches have been put forward by the landowners, as part of previous calls for sites, or are existing temporary sites and are located in nine towns and villages spread across the entire district.

“Should more landowners come forward with additional sites anywhere in the district we would be happy to consider them.”

See the full list of sites here

To comment on the draft Gypsy and Traveller Plan - available online at planningconsult.sevenoaks.gov.uk - e-mail planning.policy@sevenoaks.gov.uk or write to Planning Policy Team, Sevenoaks District Council, Argyle Road, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 1HG

Follow me on Facebook at facebook.com/tim.macfarlan.1 or on Twitter @NewsShopperTim

Comments (6)

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10:00pm Mon 2 Jun 14

disgruntres says...

As I commented previously Sevenoaks has no thought for Swanley residents at all.Our elected representatives must now stand up and state the cause for Swanley.Swanley as a name does not carry the same kudos as Sevenoaks. We are not the back of beyond nor are we a dumping ground. There are plenty of areas much neare to Sevenoaks where a gypsy site could be placed.
We put up with traffic and grid lock when the M25 is congested, but Sevenoaks failed to register us for Dart tags despite our proximity to the crossing, of course it doesn't affect Sevenoaks.They don't want to be affected by increased flytipping,increased crime, burntout vehicles etc. so suggest Swanley for a gypsy site it won't matter there. Swanley IS anice place to live and we wish it to continue. So Sevenoaks just this time consider us!
As I commented previously Sevenoaks has no thought for Swanley residents at all.Our elected representatives must now stand up and state the cause for Swanley.Swanley as a name does not carry the same kudos as Sevenoaks. We are not the back of beyond nor are we a dumping ground. There are plenty of areas much neare to Sevenoaks where a gypsy site could be placed. We put up with traffic and grid lock when the M25 is congested, but Sevenoaks failed to register us for Dart tags despite our proximity to the crossing, of course it doesn't affect Sevenoaks.They don't want to be affected by increased flytipping,increased crime, burntout vehicles etc. so suggest Swanley for a gypsy site it won't matter there. Swanley IS anice place to live and we wish it to continue. So Sevenoaks just this time consider us! disgruntres
  • Score: 14

11:02pm Mon 2 Jun 14

Local lady says...

I can't see a problem. Farningham, Hextable, Crockenhill and West Kingdown are miles from Swanley and even then the council are adding just a handful of official sites over TWELVE years. The above poster is also using the word Gypsy in a derogatory way - isn't that racist? The plans are for travellers which is an all emcompassing word.
People in Swanley have much more to worry about than a few caravans with pretty window boxes.
I can't see a problem. Farningham, Hextable, Crockenhill and West Kingdown are miles from Swanley and even then the council are adding just a handful of official sites over TWELVE years. The above poster is also using the word Gypsy in a derogatory way - isn't that racist? The plans are for travellers which is an all emcompassing word. People in Swanley have much more to worry about than a few caravans with pretty window boxes. Local lady
  • Score: -13

7:48am Tue 3 Jun 14

disgruntres says...

In reply to local lady, I was commenting on the headline which also referred to Gypsy. This was not a racist comment. Hextable,Farningham etc are not miles from Swanley. The prospect of pretty caravans with window boxes is far from true. Gypsy yes, but not travellers(who do not travel) Gypsy and Romany, whatever., it is the sites we object to. We will not welcome Sevenoaks putting sites here when obviously they wish to place them as far from Seevenoaks as they can. Read into my comments: Sevenoaks frequently lest Swanley down. We need better representation for our views and enhanced opinion of Swanley,it's residents and the surroundings!
In reply to local lady, I was commenting on the headline which also referred to Gypsy. This was not a racist comment. Hextable,Farningham etc are not miles from Swanley. The prospect of pretty caravans with window boxes is far from true. Gypsy yes, but not travellers(who do not travel) Gypsy and Romany, whatever., it is the sites we object to. We will not welcome Sevenoaks putting sites here when obviously they wish to place them as far from Seevenoaks as they can. Read into my comments: Sevenoaks frequently lest Swanley down. We need better representation for our views and enhanced opinion of Swanley,it's residents and the surroundings! disgruntres
  • Score: 13

7:50am Tue 3 Jun 14

cherished says...

I have read and re-read the comments from Disgruntes and cannot see how the use of the word Gypsy is 'racist' or anywhere near offensive! In fact the word is used throughout the planning application by SDC. I would suggest this storyline would be better focussed on the issues rather than the use of one word, which is indeed going to crop up throughout.
Of course Swanley is always treated as the 'poor relation' to Sevenoaks, planning applications in the past for developments have been allowed when similar in the Sevenoaks area have been refused. And who else would be able to plan 'in retrospective' and get away with it? I bet that wouldn't happen if a site was set up near Sevenoaks!
I have read and re-read the comments from Disgruntes and cannot see how the use of the word Gypsy is 'racist' or anywhere near offensive! In fact the word is used throughout the planning application by SDC. I would suggest this storyline would be better focussed on the issues rather than the use of one word, which is indeed going to crop up throughout. Of course Swanley is always treated as the 'poor relation' to Sevenoaks, planning applications in the past for developments have been allowed when similar in the Sevenoaks area have been refused. And who else would be able to plan 'in retrospective' and get away with it? I bet that wouldn't happen if a site was set up near Sevenoaks! cherished
  • Score: 14

10:37am Tue 3 Jun 14

Gypo.Joe says...

There's me thinking Swanley was a G word camp.

NIMBYs.
There's me thinking Swanley was a G word camp. NIMBYs. Gypo.Joe
  • Score: -8

11:01am Thu 5 Jun 14

Ordinary Guy says...

At the Council Meeting in Swanley last night it was clear that all of the Councillors are not in favour of yet more sites being put in Swanley.
It is quite staggering that Sevenoaks District Council seem to think it is ok to create a huge imbalance by simply putting virtually all these sites in the North of the District.
It also seems to be clear that Sevenoaks Town Councillors are more that happy to keep "their patch" free of sites and social housing and to have such things elsewhere.
Is Swanley treated as 2nd Class by Sevenoaks District? It seems so.
At the Council Meeting in Swanley last night it was clear that all of the Councillors are not in favour of yet more sites being put in Swanley. It is quite staggering that Sevenoaks District Council seem to think it is ok to create a huge imbalance by simply putting virtually all these sites in the North of the District. It also seems to be clear that Sevenoaks Town Councillors are more that happy to keep "their patch" free of sites and social housing and to have such things elsewhere. Is Swanley treated as 2nd Class by Sevenoaks District? It seems so. Ordinary Guy
  • Score: 4

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