‘Best option’ for Dales traveller site is chosen

Councillors have finally decided where they would like to create a permanent site for a family of travellers – ending a year-long search.

The wood yard at Homesford, near Matlock, has been chosen ahead of 15 other locations.

The decision was made by Derbyshire Dales District Council’s corporate committee, chaired by Cllr Albert Catt.

Members gave the go-ahead for negotiations to take place with the wood yard’s landowners to agree a price for the site. Any contract to buy the land will be dependent on a successful planning application.

Should the plan fall through, two other sites – both at Bolehill, near Wirksworth – will re-enter the mix.

One is a grassed area alongside the B5036 road next to the Black Rocks car park.

The other – put forward by the landowner only a few hours before the meeting – is a triangular piece of land nearby.

The district council has a legal duty to offer suitable accommodation to the traveller family.

A spokesman for the council said: “Ignoring this duty could result in costly legal action that would have to be borne by taxpayers.

“At the end of July, the district council published the results of a detailed community consultation on the Homesford site, which, at that time, was the only feasible permanent solution identified by the Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group.

“As part of the consultation, local people were asked to suggest suitable alternative sites – but none came forward.”

By the end of this month, a temporary site in Rowsley will be ready for the traveller family for a maximum period of nine months, from the first day of occupation.