Land in Catford has been designated as a 'gypsy and traveller site', despite councillors’ concerns.

The Pool Court site, which lies in Bellingham Ward, will house six pitches on council-owned land and land which is yet to be bought from Network Rail.

But councillor Alan Hall was among those concerned the consultation process, which saw Pool Court selected as a preferred option over the New Cross Social Club and adjoining land in Hornshay Street, was flawed.

Despite its status as a site of importance for nature conservation, Pool Court has a Japanese knotwood infestation and is known to be used for fly-tipping. It is also prone to flooding.

Speaking at an overview and scrutiny business panel meeting, Cllr Hall said: “If you live in New Cross you might be very much in favour of having a traveller and gypsy site at Pool Court, and vice-versa.

“We are talking about human behaviour here, it makes no judgement on the merits of the case.”

Cllr Liam Curran was also concerned the potential loss of the New Cross Social Club impacted the responses.

He said: “If you choose a site with a social club, well that’s a bit of a no-brainer:  it’s like going, ‘would you like a cup of tea or would you like your leg broken?’ And of course, everyone is going to go for a cup of tea.

“I think if we are choosing sites, to bring it down to two where there will be a loss of social amenities for one, it’s a bit obvious what the outcome would be.

“Travellers being consulted would not wish to generate a loss of amenities to someone else.”

Cllr Hall was concerned the traveller community had not visited the site before the council approved it, with council staff showing traveller representatives images and plans for the site – which will be set eight metres back from the Ravensbourne River to mitigate flood risk.

He said: “If you are doing a comparison between somewhere in New Cross versus somewhere green and leafy by a river that might well be a case, but if they have never been there to see the two railway lines and two rivers and the steep embankment and the Japanese knotweed, how could they make an informed judgement?”

Councillors agreed there was scope for further work, and that minutes from the meeting would be sent to the mayor and cabinet.

The Housing and Planning Act requires local authorities to consider the needs of travellers and provide sites where caravans can be stationed.