REASONS FOR OBJECTIONS
1. The Gypsies do not camp in Clapham and the surrounding area. The reason for this is quite simply that the gypsies do not want to be on the north side of Bedford and away from the more urbanised areas. They historically have gone to the south and south-east sides of Bedford because this is the best area for them to ply their trades and make a living.
COUNCIL POLICY CP 9 STATES QUITE CLEARLY THAT A NEED MUST BE IDENTIFIED IN ANY AREA WHERE SITES ARE TO BE ALLOCATED. This is certainly not the case in Clapham and therefore there is absolutely no need for Gypsy sites to be in the Clapham area.
COUNCIL POLICY CP 14 ALSO REFERS TO THE FACT THAT A SITE SHOULD NOT BE BUILT WHERE THERE IS NO PROVEN NEED.
2. The proposed site has been used by thousands of local people as a leisure area for many years. Brownswood is a beautiful ancient wood with maintained paths running through it. The adjoining Millennium Wood and grass field is getting closer to maturity and has 19 years of proven leisure use. To have a gypsy site development on the grass field adjacent to the woods will, without doubt, affect people's enjoyment of the area, for many people the Council's proposed plans will now prevent them from using this facility at all.
THE COUNCIL'S OWN REQUIREMENTS FOR A SITE STATE THAT THE AMENITIES OF THE OCCUPIERS OF NEARBY LAND AND PROPERTY SHOULD NOT BE HARMED IN AN UNACCEPTABLE MANNER. AS BEDFORD RATE PAYERS WE ARE ALL PART OWNERS OF THE SITE.
3. The site is on top of a hill and not only does it command superb views it can be seen from miles away. The proposed development is out of character with the area and it is on the ridgeline.
THIS LAND HAS NOT BEEN DESIGNATED BY THE COUNCIL AS FUTURE BUILDING LAND BECAUSE TO DATE THE COUNCIL HAS NOT DEEMED THIS AREA OF GREAT LANDSCAPE VALUE TO BE SUITABLE. IT IS OUTSIDE OF ITS SETTLEMENT POLICY FOR CLAPHAM (CP13). THE GOVERNMENT'S GUIDANCE DOCUMENT ALSO STATES THAT GYPSY SITES MUST NOT BE PUT ON SITES WHERE YOU WOULD NOT PUT HOUSES.
4. The 45-caravan site will no doubt mean that a considerable number of children will need schooling. CLAPHAM, OAKLEY AND MILTON ERNEST SCHOOLS ARE FULL due to the recent completion of housing estates, but the law states that Gypsy children MUST be educated locally! The proposed site is a long walk from any of the schools. The bus service is inadequate and therefore more money would have to be put into it to service the site.
5. 132,000 volt power lines run directly over the proposed site. Is it prudent to put a large settlement directly under it? Many people of knowledge and authority believe that high voltage electrical currents are harmful to children. The government's guidance document states clearly that SITES CLOSE TO ELECTRICITY PYLONS ARE UNLIKELY TO BE SUITABLE.
6. The ground is heavy blue clay and after all the concreting and building, drainage will be a problem, particularly for those unfortunate residents at the bottom of the hill.
7. The field itself is quite steep and it therefore will be more costly to develop.
8. 15-pitch sites (i.e. up to 45 caravans) is the largest size that the Council deem to be manageable.
The field at Brownswood is much larger than is needed and there is a risk that more gypsies will come onto the extra land illegally making this a much larger and unmanageable site.
9. The size of this site means there would be a substantial increase in vehicle movement in the area.
10. Gypsy sites should be developed on brownfield sites and certainly not on part of the green infrastructure of Clapham and the local area.
11. Over the years the nature reserve has also been used by many schools as an educational resource to teach pupils about nature and ecology. Various youth organisations (scouts, cadets, etc) also regularly use this resource.
12. If this development goes ahead, the forestry commission will probably demand a total refund of their extensive treeplanting costs.
13. THERE ARE OTHER SITES THAT ARE FAR MORE SUITABLE AND MEET THE COUNCIL'S CRITERIA MUCH MORE SATISFACTORILY. These sites are listed below along with the reasons why they are more suitable.
WEST OF PROGRESS PARK in Bedford is already in the options plan and completely fits the desired criteria.
MEADOW LANE in Bedford is already in the options plan and also completely fits the desired criteria.
NORTH OF MEADOW LANE in Bedford is already in the options plan and also completely fits the desired criteria.
There are also other sites, which so far have not been put forward that do fit the criteria more satisfactorily.