As the debate over Kent’s failures in providing for Gypsies and travellers continues, the decision on the local plan will have significant implications for the community and its future development.

As the debate over Kent's failures in providing for Gypsies and travellers continues, the decision on the local plan will have significant implications for the community and its future development.

Possible Expansion of Gypsy and Traveller Pitches in Dartford Sparks Debate over Kent's Failures in Providing Adequate Sites

Possible Expansion of Gypsy and Traveller Pitches Across Dartford Sparks Debate over Kent’s Failures

A planning inspector has instructed a Kent council to expand Gypsy and traveller pitches and release green belt land in order to meet the increasing demand for such sites. This decision has sparked debates among campaigners and council members, with some arguing that local authorities in Kent have “failed miserably” in providing enough sites in the past.

The issue has come to light ahead of Dartford council’s decision on their local plan for 2024-2037, which includes the provision of accommodation for Gypsy and traveller sites. The plan was recently deemed “sound” by the government’s Planning Inspectorate, with the inspector noting a need for 56 additional sites for Gypsies and travellers and one more for travelling showpeople.

Former director of the Gypsy Council, Joseph Jones, expressed his support for the expansion plans in Dartford, but also criticized other parts of Kent for failing to provide adequate sites in the past. He emphasized the importance of these sites for Gypsies and travellers to have access to basic necessities such as employment, education, and healthcare.

The planning inspector tasked with reviewing the local plan, Philip Mileham, also acknowledged the pressing need for more sites, stating that there are “exceptional circumstances” that justify changes to the green belt boundary in this instance. However, he also noted that there is significant competition for land in Dartford and that efforts to identify additional sites have been insufficient.

In response to the issue, Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite stated that the council’s proposals are based on solid evidence and fairness, with a need to balance the needs of all residents and businesses in the borough. Opposition Labour leader Cllr Jonathon Hawkes also expressed support for the local plan and its accommodation of traveller sites, noting the difficulty in finding suitable non-green belt sites for such purposes.

Ultimately, the local plan is set for approval at a council meeting being held tonight (April 22), with the goal of adequately meeting the needs of all residents and businesses in Dartford.

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