Recent plans have been submitted for a Gypsy and Traveller site in Wrexham, prompting a mix of interest and controversy among local residents. The planning application, currently under review by Wrexham Council, outlines the establishment of a four-pitch family site on land at Stryt Y Bydden in Caego, New Broughton.
The chosen location for this potential development is a disused railway line, a remnant of the Moss Valley Line that traversed the village of Caego until the 1930s as part of the expansive Great Western Railways Network. Over the years, the site, primarily composed of railway ballast, has succumbed to neglect, becoming ensnared by self-set scrubland and plagued by incidents of illegal dumping.
Planning documents accompanying the application assert that the site qualifies as a brownfield site due to its history as previously developed land, once serving as a siding for rolling railway stock. The proposed development aims to repurpose the land into a residential caravan site, involving the removal of undergrowth, railway ballast, and the installation of new fencing.
A representative for the applicant highlighted the challenges faced in finding a suitable location. Despite engaging with the council’s Gypsy Liaison Officers, the applicant has reportedly struggled to identify an alternative site. According to the representative’s statement, other potential sites were deemed unsuitable, unavailable due to landowners’ reluctance to sell for such purposes, or simply economically unfeasible. The representative emphasized the uniqueness of the situation in a design and access statement, which reads, “The lack of available sites and the personal circumstances (submitted in a separate Private and Confidential document direct to the allocated planning officer) merit substantial weight to approve the planning application.”
The controversial proposal has ignited discussions within the community, prompting varied reactions from residents, local authorities, and advocacy groups. While some view it as a necessary step to address the accommodation needs of the Gypsy and Traveller community, others express concerns about the environmental impact, local infrastructure, and potential tensions within the community.
Supporters argue that the proposed site repurposes a neglected piece of land, transforming it into a designated space for Gypsy and Traveller families. They emphasize the importance of acknowledging the housing challenges faced by this community and the difficulties encountered in securing appropriate sites. Advocates also underline the potential economic benefits, citing the creation of jobs during the development phase and increased local spending by residents once the site is operational.
However, critics voice apprehensions about the environmental implications of clearing the site, citing the removal of undergrowth and railway ballast. Additionally, concerns have been raised regarding the impact on local infrastructure, particularly in terms of increased traffic and demands on public services. Some residents worry about potential tensions between the existing community and the newcomers, expressing fears that cultural differences may lead to misunderstandings or conflicts.
The local council is now tasked with weighing these competing interests and making a decision that considers the broader impact on the community. The planning application is set to undergo a thorough review process, involving consultations with various stakeholders and the careful examination of environmental and social assessments.
Wrexham Council will ultimately determine the fate of the proposed Gypsy and Traveller site in Caego. The decision, expected at a later date, will undoubtedly influence the dynamics of the local community and could set a precedent for similar proposals in the future. As the deliberations unfold, residents, activists, and local authorities find themselves engaged in a nuanced discussion, grappling with the complexities of housing, cultural diversity, and sustainable development.