CONCERNS have been voiced about the safety of the region’s travelling community if a second public inquiry does not go in their favour.
A planning inquiry opened yesterday into the controversial planning application for a 12-caravan gipsy site at Dollar Park, Holywell, after Flintshire County Council rejected plans for a change of use to provide residential space for six families earlier this year.
Travellers have lived at the Bagillt Road site since 2007 but a public inquiry last year ordered them to leave the site by February 2010, an instruction which has not been complied with.
During cross-examination of Flintshire’s senior planning officer Emma Hancock, Alan Masters, leading the appellants’ case, quizzed her on the likely impact on the travellers if they could not live on the park.
He said: “There is nowhere else for them to go so they will end up on the edge of a road.
“The dangers may be great if they are living on the edge of the road.
“Are you aware of the number of travelling children run over ever year?”
In response, Ms Hancock said she had not seen any evidence of statistics related to these concerns and cast doubts upon Mr Masters’ fears.
“It depends where the road is and how busy it is,” she said.
“It could be they would be on the dead end of an industrial estate where there is no traffic.”
Ms Hancock also defended the authority over its policies on providing residential space for travellers after Mr Masters claimed it had been “unequal in approach” in finding space in the county for them compared to the settled population.
She said there was a needs assessment being conducted into the issue and a site was based in Queensferry to accommodate travellers.
A first application for 10 families to be housed was rejected and that issue also went to a public inquiry. The second application by Leonard Hamilton is for six families on a 0.48hectare site. The families have nine children under 16.
Ms Hancock described the second application as mainly being different from the first in “revised access and internal layout”.
Grounds for the refusal of the application include highways concerns, visibility, impact on a neighbouring listed building and on the area’s wildlife, with Hugh Richards, leading the council’s case, describing the access to the site as “unacceptably substantial”.
Stuart Body, Flintshire Council forestry officer, said up to 34 individual trees, including mature yew and sycamore, could be lost if there was development at the site. A Tree Preservation Order (TPO) had been in place since 2007 for a section of the land.
Mr Masters questioned the TPO in light of the history of the land as a coalyard and suggested trees could be planted elsewhere on the site if necessary.
Alwyn Nixon, the inspector leading the inquiry, will make a site visit to Dollar Park today when submissions are due to be heard from people directly affected by development of the park.
See full story in the Leader