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Land in Chesham 'not for sale to travellers'
THE owner of land pinpointed as a possible location for a traveller site has said they have no interest in selling it - as councillors said it could become "another Dale Farm".
An area of land to the south of Lye Green Road in Chesham has been identified by Chiltern District Council as being potentially suitable for development.
A report from the authority said the landowner "will need to be contacted in order to test deliverability" - but the company which owns it, WJ & M Mash, said this week it has not been contacted by the council.
In a statement issued through their solicitor, they said: "The company wishes to convey that it has never communicated to the council, or any third party, that it is interested in developing this land for the purpose identified by the council, or in selling the same.
"The company is disappointed that the council proposed the land at Lye Green Road as a possible site for development without ensuring the company was supportive beforehand.
"The company will be responding to the council’s public consultation in due course but releases this public retort in order to reassure local residents as to the company’s position."
The proposals were discussed by Chesham Town Council last night, with members saying they were opposed to the scheme.
The whole field, which is in Green Belt land, has been highlighted as suitable for development, although only a small proportion of it would be turned over to developers if planning approval was given.
But in a letter presented to the council, Cllr Ruth Juett said: "We'll set a precedent in Chesham - we'll create a similar situation to Dale Farm in Essex."
Town mayor Mark Shaw added: "The site is unsuitable. The landowner has spoken to a number of residents and said he has no desire to sell the land.
"It's ludicrous the district council have identified that site."
A recent survey commissioned on behalf of the four district councils in Bucks found 108 additional pitches for travellers need to be found in the county by 2026. Of those, nine need to be built in the Chiltern district.
The council has suggested five existing traveller sites that could be extended to provide the new pitches and a further five - of which the land at Lye Green Road is one - that could be used to provide accommodation.
However the council stressed this does not mean the identified sites are suitable for development.
The plans are currently part of a public consultation, which closes on Monday, October 14. To view the proposals go to www.chiltern.gov.uk/planning/deliverydevelopmentplandocument.
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