Site visit for controversial showmen's plan in Thornbury
7:00am Thursday 5th December 2013 in News
OPPONENTS of a controversial plan to create a permanent base for travelling showmen's families in Thornbury have their chance to raise objections during a site visit tomorrow (Friday, December 6).
The showmen say they have outgrown their current quarters in nearby villages and want to develop 12 pitches on land west of Pound Mill Business Centre, Lower Morton, so they can have a secure home for their families.
But town and parish leaders are fighting the scheme and 45 residents have lodged objections.
There is particular concern about access to and from the site from Oldbury Lane, which is claimed to be dangerous.
Thornbury Town Council said the scale of the development was "extremely large" for the site, which was outside the town development boundary.
It said: "The proposed development will have a detrimental impact on the highway safety of Oldbury Lane, where a fatal accident has occurred."
It said slow moving vehicles on Oldbury Lane and at the junction of Butt Lane and Morton Way created a dangerous situation, which would only get worse when hundreds of new houses planned for nearby Park Farm and Morton Way were built.
Civic leaders also said the access road would cut across public rights of way, making it unsafe for those using the paths.
In its submission to South Gloucestershire Council, the town council said: "Commercial traffic has increased along the narrow lanes around Duckhole as a result of the business park at Pound Mill Farm opening. There are concerns that the lanes will be used to access the development and that the proposed access track will be used to access the business park."
Thornbury has been joined by Oldbury and Rockhampton parish council in opposing the scheme, which is on land that lies within a flood zone.
The Environment Agency and drainage engineers have also objected and asked for a flood risk assessment to be carried out.
Planning officer Simon Penketh said the site was on agricultural land that was currently reached from the business centre. Although in open countryside, it was not protected green belt but was in a flood zone.
The families want to create 12 pitches - one for each family - for storage of fairground rides, kiosks and other equipment that are presently on various sites around the district.
Mr Penketh said: "Each pitch would provide space for keeping, generally, one static-type caravan and one or two touring type caravans, depending on the size of the family, and associated fairground machinery, rides and equipment operated by each family."
The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England has opposed the plan but the Western section of the Showmens Guild of Great Britain said: "As there is a strong showmen’s fraternity within South Gloucestershire, all of these applicants are local people who have lived and worked in the area for most of their lives.
"Showmen in the area are in desperate need of sites and have such difficulties in finding a site that will be appropriate for their needs."