NEW sites for gipsies and travellers will be needed in Swindon during the next 20 years, according to a key council document.

Swindon Council’s draft core strategy has indicated 14 new residential pitches will be required by 2026 and will be probably be put in the north of the town.

The council last night disputed the exact number of pitches required but has admitted new pitches close to schools, shops and GP surgeries will have to be provided. A separate site for travelling showpeople will also have to be found.

The draft core strategy is a guide to how development will be managed across the borough over the next two decades.

The document also includes plans to increase the Chiseldon Firs transit site but council officers now claim that no additional pitches will be needed there.

A council spokesman said: “We’ve not yet decided on the locations for the 14 residential or travelling showpeople pitches. They’re not necessarily going to be all in the same place.

“Any site identified will have to comply with planning requirements such as being close to amenities such as schools, GPs surgeries, shops etc, not be on a flood plain, and taking into account traffic considerations.

“Swindon Council does dispute the number of residential pitches required and it may change downwards.”

Coun Eric Shaw (Con, Wroughton and Chiseldon) said he would not like to see any extension of the Firs site.

He said: “It is a transit site and by its very nature people come and go. At the moment it is working well but I would not want to see more pitches.”

There are currently two sites for gipsies and travelling people in the town.

There are 39 plots at the Hay Lane site in Wroughton and three plots at the Small Acres site in Stratton St Margaret.

A spokesman for the council said both sites were operating well and residents were settled.

He also confirmed money spent on the permanent pitches comes directly from the funds raised from transit sites and no other council funds are used.

Comments on the core strategy, which also covers transport, education and cultural issues, can be submitted up to Monday, September 21. A public exhibition about the document will be held tomorrow and Friday at the Brunel Shopping Centre between 9am and 5pm.