Travellers' site go ahead on danger bend sparks safety fears

The site at Oldbury Lane where pitches for showmen and travellers have been approved

The site at Oldbury Lane where pitches for showmen and travellers have been approved

First published in News Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Yate, Chipping Sodbury, Winterbourne, Frampton Cotterell, Rangeworthy, Wickwar, Hawkesbury, Iron Acton, Coalpit Heath and Old Sodbury

A ONE-pitch travellers’ site near Thornbury has been given the go ahead prompting fears it will quickly grow much larger.

The application for a permanent pitch at Oldbury Lane in Lower Morton was approved by South Gloucestershire Council’s planning committee last Thursday (April 24) despite concerns among councillors that access to the site was unsafe.

Last month the same committee granted approval for 12 travelling showmen pitches in the next field, which uses the same access as this new site, despite warnings from locals that Oldbury Lane was not suitable for any increase in traffic.

Cllr Clare Fardell (Lib Dem, Thornbury North) told the Gazette after Thursday’s meeting: “At the previous meeting I wanted the council to look very carefully at visibility splays and asked for a deferral of the showmen application but was out voted.

“I raised the subject again but we were told it wasn’t possible to refuse the application on the grounds of inadequate access for one application when permission has been given for 12 pitches.”

The bend on Oldbury Lane, which will provide access to both sites, was the scene of a fatal crash in 2009 when a 22-year-old man died in a head-on collision with another vehicle. The committee also considered new information sent in by fellow councillor Matthew Riddle (Con, Severn) who lives on Oldbury Lane, that there have been several other non-fatal accidents on the road.

Resident Alison Pitman told councillors: "You cannot put the health, safety and well-being of the road users of Oldbury Lane in jeopardy.

"If these planning applications get approval and another serious or fatal accident occurs on this road then it would be you with blood on your hands.

"I appreciate that there is a shortage of housing - for all groups in society - but does this need really have to be satisfied through endangering the lives of road users and residents?"

Thornbury Town Council and Oldbury Parish Council both objected to the plans predominantly because the site is outside of Thornbury’s settlement boundary.

But planning officer Anne Joseph said the council was faced with a requirement to find 48 residential travellers’ pitches and 10 transient ones by 2028 and this ‘windfall’ site would help meet that target.

She added: “The site is located outside the settlement boundary of Thornbury within the open countryside.

“It is noted that this differs from proposals for non-gypsy development.”

Charles Eardley-Wilmot, of Lower Morton, spoke against the plans at the meeting.

He said afterwards: “Councillors were embarrassed because they realised they had made the wrong decision last time.

“This site with permission for on pitch could be sold tomorrow to another traveller who applies for permission for 10 pitches. And the council, which has said we think the access is acceptable, that the site is sustainable and the distance from the town is fine, would have a very difficult job turning it down.”

Added Mr Eardley-Wilmot: “It could go on, the site if four acres so you could have more applications for even more pitches.

“I am very disappointed with South Gloucestershire Council.

“Many councillors from other wards were only thinking not in my back yard. They have kicked Thornbury into the long grass and have no sympathy with people here.”

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