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Traveller transit site

Proposed temporary gypsy, roma and traveller transit site

Walsall Council has submitted a planning application seeking approval to construct a temporary transit site for the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community. Please see the below information about the proposal, including answers to some frequently asked questions and details of how you can contribute to the planning consultation.

The following information is also available in Bengali, Gujarati, HindiPunjabi and Urdu language versions.

The proposal

Access to quality homes - in whatever form they take, is a key element of any thriving and sustainable community.

On 10 February, Walsall Council Cabinet approved a proposal to provide a temporary transit site to support the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community. The site will be managed by the council and monitored over time to assess the effectiveness of the site and determine the best approach, for all communities, in the longer term.

The proposed site location is at the junction of Pleck Road and Darlaston Road in Pleck.

This is a council-owned, previously developed site which is not currently in use. The proposed site would be entered and exited from Darlaston Road via a new gated entry. There would be no access to the site from Narrow Lane. 

The site is close to amenities, schools, travel links and employment and can provide flexible accommodation for small Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities.

This is an opportunity to improve the services we offer to the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and to also deal with any issues associated with unauthorised encampments more effectively. If the development of a temporary transit site goes ahead, it presents the opportunity to create better outcomes for all communities in the borough of Walsall.

How to comment on the planning application

Anyone can comment on a planning application that has not yet been decided, but you are asked to provide your name and address with any comment. Anonymous comments are not given as much weight during the decision making process.

You can submit your comments on this planning application via our planning portal.

Go to "search for the application” and use the planning reference 21/0368.

If you prefer, you can submit your comments in writing to:
Development Management, Walsall Council, Civic Centre, Darwall Street, Walsall, WS1 1DG.

We will provide details of how to access the planning portal, submit your comments in writing and the unique planning application reference number once the application has been validated by planners.

Frequently asked questions

What is a transit site?

Transit sites, such as the one proposed for Narrow Lane in Pleck, at the junction of Pleck Road and Darlaston Road, are used as short-term stopping places. They differ from permanent sites which provide residential pitches for the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) community and are used for longer term occupation. 

Why does Walsall need a transit site?

Under the Equality Act 2010 Walsall Council has a legal duty to provide services for all of its residents, including Gypsy, Roma and Travellers who are protected by law. Walsall already has settled Gypsy, Roma and Travellers living in the borough, all of whom are integrated very well in a number of different locations. Having a transit site will enable the council to improve our offer to this community by providing dedicated accommodation for short periods of time for GRT groups who choose to live their traditional nomadic lifestyle.

Additionally, unauthorised encampments can be unsafe, lack amenities and cause environmental damage.  Other councils who have provided transit sites have found there has been a significant reduction in the overall number of unauthorised encampments.

How has the site been chosen? 

An unauthorised encampments (UE) working group was conceived to establish a long-term strategy to reduce the numbers of UEs in the borough and to explore options for a transit site.

In gathering its evidence, the working group spoke with representatives from different organisations including the National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups who have provided welcome first-hand experiences which have been invaluable in informing the priorities for selection of potential sites.

The working group proposed 18 site priorities (PDF) that should be used to help the council identify a suitable long-term transit site.

More than 25 sites across the borough were considered. The site at the junction of Pleck Road and Darlaston Road was proposed on the basis that it is a council-owned site, not a restricted green-zoned site, not currently in use and that it met with priorities set out by the working group.

How will the site be managed?

The site will be managed by the council and a GRT liaison officer will be appointed to support the community and manage any issues arising as a result of the site operation.

Will travellers be charged to stay on the temporary transit site?

Yes. Groups using the temporary transit site will be charged rent to stay temporarily on the site. The rent will be used to pay for the upkeep and routine maintenance of the site.

How long can a group occupy the site?

Groups will be able to occupy the site for up to 28 days. This is consistent with sites in Dudley and Sandwell and will provide the opportunity for those who are staying on the site to be actively engage with the surrounding community and access local service should they want or need to.

Will having a transit site nearby increase crime and anti-social behaviour (ASB) levels?

There is no reason why crime or ASB should increase in these circumstances. It should be remembered that individuals, not communities, commit crime and engage in ASB. There is no evidence on either a local or national basis that there are a disproportionate number of offenders within GRT communities as opposed to any other communities.

What are the timescales?

Now that the planning application has been submitted, there will be a period of consultation of at least 21 days. All residents and businesses can comment on the application up until the day before it goes to Planning Committee in the summer.

Details of the meeting will be made available on this web page once confirmed.

If planning permission is granted, construction will start over the summer and is expected to take around three to four months.

What matters can be considered through the planning process?

Planning is about how land is used. The planning process will consider matters such as the impact on neighbours, the visual impact and relevant government policies.

The council can only take account of ‘material planning considerations’ as detailed on the planning pages on our website at:

go.walsall.gov.uk/planning_and_building_control/comment_on_a_planning_application

How can I make sure any comments I make are not regarded as racist?

Comments should be based on valid planning matters for the council to be able to take them properly into account in future decision making.

The council has a legal duty not to accept any comments considered to be racist under the Equality Act 2010, including generalisations, stereotypes or negative perceptions of race, ethnicity or culture. In this context, Gypsies, Roma and Travellers are racial minorities and racist comments would be those which include words, phrases or comments which are likely:

  • to be offensive to a particular racial or ethnic group
  • to be racially abusive, insulting or threatening
  • to apply pressure to discriminate on racial grounds
  • to stir up racial hatred or contempt.

The council will not give any consideration to any comments or feedback that are deemed to be racist.