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Gipsy site bid sparks road safety concerns on the A420
FEARFUL residents and councillors are raising concerns about revised plans for a gipsy site on the edge of Watchfield.
The traveller community has applied for change of use of land on the corner of B4508 and A420 to create eight pitches and additional hard standing and utility or dayrooms.
In June 2011, the Vale of White Horse District Council, the planning authority in that area, successfully fought a second appeal over plans to create a gipsy site there.
Inspector Mark Dakeyne said there was a clear and immediate need for more gipsy sites in the area, and its impact on the environment would be acceptable, but this did not override the highway safety objections to the proposals, particularly those related to the risks to pedestrians.
Now Watchfield Parish Council, some residents and the two district councillors, Elaine Ware and Simon Howell (both Con, Shrivenham), have vowed to fight the revised application, which now includes a pedestrian refuge on the A420.
Parish council chairman Derek Gale said it would be dangerous.
He said: “Although we have some objections to do with policy and the fact we consider it to be an inappropriate change of use, we’re very concerned about highway safety and don’t feel that the proposed pedestrian refuge is a satisfactory response.”
The site is expected to be brought up during a visit at the weekend of Wantage MP Ed Vaizey, minister for culture, communications and creative industries.
Several residents have written to the district council, urging the planning committee to reject the application, which is expected to be considered in January.
Glyn Jones, of the High Street, wrote: “The main road is heavily used and vehicles pass the site area at high speed.
“The Highworth junction has been the scene of a number of major accidents. The proposed pedestrian crossing arrangements will be a significant hazard for both pedestrians and motorists.”
The gipsy’s planning agent, Matthew Green, of Green Planning Solutions LLP, said people had been crossing the A420 for years at that point without a crossing. But the planning inspector thought one was necessary so the applicant had agreed with Wiltshire Council to install one if the plans are approved.
He said: “What they really don’t want is a gipsy site. That’s what it boils down to."