New Gypsy and Traveler accommodation needs assessment underway in Denbighshire

DENBIGHSHIRE County Council is about to undertake a new accommodation needs assessment for Gypsies and Travelers.

This work consists of assessing the current accommodation needs within the Gypsy and Travelers community and does not include the search for locations for the sites.

Cllr Hugh Evans, Head of Council, said: “The last GTAA was approved in 2017 and we have to submit a new one to the Welsh government early next year.

“The GTAA only assesses hosting needs and this work does not include locating locations for venues. There will be no more work on finding sites until we understand the current needs.

“This work aims to identify the needs of Gypsy and Traveler families who already live in Denbighshire, as well as Gypsies and Travelers who travel across the county and stay in unauthorized encampments.

“The board has taken into account concerns raised during previous work and has both senior officials and Cabinet members involved in a project committee to manage the development of this project.

The council has a legal obligation to undertake a new Gypsy and Traveler Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) every five years in accordance with the Housing Act 2014 (Wales) and is also a requirement for the replacement local development plan (LDP) that the council is currently working on.

The LDP is an important document that sets local priorities for land allocation across the county and includes land allocations for housing, employment, and green space protection.

At a meeting on May 13, the project board is requesting the support of the council’s communities review committee to form a new task and finish group involving elected members from across Denbighshire.

It is proposed that the group support the development of the new GTAA by ensuring that the process conforms to Welsh Government guidelines and takes into account previous comments.

The group will also assist in the development of a stakeholder engagement plan to ensure good communication on the project.

If the council’s review committee approves this approach, it is expected that the consultation process, which will include discussions with Gypsy and Traveler families and the wider community, including representative groups, will begin this summer.

Last March, an application for a proposed site for Gypsies and Travelers was rejected after a passionate plea from the mother of a girl with a rare genetic condition.

Officers had recommended approval of the site six steps off Cwttir Lane in St Asaph.

Protesters against the plans stood with signs and made their feelings known outside the chamber, while a crowded public gallery saw councilors reject the plans by 15 to two votes, with one abstention.

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