Hundreds gather to protest plans to build travellers' site near Heighington (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Hundreds gather to protest plans to build travellers' site near Heighington
SCORES OF protesters packed a public meeting to fight plans to build a travellers’ site close to a picturesque village.
Residents of Heighington, near Darlington, held the meeting tonight (Wednesday, March 6) to discuss controversial proposals to convert nearby fields.
Plans submitted to Darlington Borough Council in early February show how two fields on Walworth Road could be transformed to allow for the building of two mobile homes, two touring caravans, two amenity buildings, a septic tank and an access road.
There was standing room only at the meeting which was attended by around 200 people, including ward councillor Gerald Lee and Darlington Borough Council’s Principle Planning Officer, Dave Coates.
One local resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “We do not want this site at the end of our village. The roads are dangerous with a lot of traffic already and our facilities are overrun, the school is over-subscribed.
“People are concerned about the effect on the environment. Gypsies create an impact wherever they go. There are also concerns about crime as crime levels rise quite considerably in areas where they are.”
Mr Coates advised the crowd on how they could object to the proposals and responded to concerns about future policing of the site, increased traffic to the area and the potential impact on green field land.
He also stressed that any objections raised purely on the basis of residents not wanting travellers in the area would have to be ignored by the council.
“The council can only take into account objections based on generic material planning concerns," he said. "For people who don’t want Gypsies, that is an understandable feeling, which as a resident I can understand, but the planning process does not allow for that.
"We cannot make judgements about individuals be they black, white or Gypsy, we have to be quite specific when objecting. Setting out reasons to object on the grounds that you do not want Gypsies there will not carry any weight.”
More than 200 objections have already been lodged in response to the planning application.
What do you think? Leave a comment below about the plans.