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Landowner Says He’ll Provide County’s First Short-stay Traveller Site

Published on: 19 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 19 Jan, 2022

The brownfield dump site in Pirbright. Owner’s son Daniel Hill says he is planning to put in a planning application for his land to be used as a short stay Traveller site. Photo Darren Pepe

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

An owner of a patch of land outside Pirbright says he’ll provide Surrey’s first short-stay Traveller site and has started work to launch his bid.

Stoney Castle near Pirbright, which has previously been used as a scrap yard, could be put forward as a proposed site, according to the son of the landowner with power of attorney.

Daniel Hill, who looks after the land on behalf of his father, said the site is the “perfect location” for a short-stay site and he has instructed a planning consultant to work on an application to Guildford Borough Council.

Mr Hill described the land as “notorious” and “a yard that isn’t being used as a yard”.

He said because it is brownfield land it means no need for development on green belt land and he believes it would help with the shortage of pitches for Travellers in Surrey.

He said: “It is the perfect location. I feel I’ve got the solution, and I’m happy to make this happen.”

He also said he could develop the land cheaper than other sites so far suggested by Surrey County County, including the site proposed next to the permanent Pendell camp on which a decision was deferred last week by Tandridge District Council.

Surrey County Council has been working with the district and borough councils in the county to provide the first short-stay site, which would be available for people to stay for up to four weeks.

Daniel Hill Tweet sent before Christmas

Mr Hill added: “The benefits are quite considerable. The first benefit is it’s a brownfield site. It’s not like you’re developing in the green belt.

“And we could deliver this site for a fraction of the cost. The cost that we’ve been estimated to develop the site to a 20 pitch transit site is about £600,000.”

He said his proposed site had full backing of the charity Friends, Families and Travellers.

Plans for the site include facilities for those using it including temporary education provision for children and health facilities.

Mr Hill said: “Everybody deserves a safe place to live. And Gypsies and Travellers are just people.

“A lot of people don’t see it like that, they see this as a problem somehow and say: ‘These are people that we need to banish from Surrey, these are people we don’t want in our society.’ And really, that’s not how this should be looked at.”

A Surrey County Council spokesperson said the statutory responsibility to provide and maintain Gypsy Roma and Traveller (GRT) sites sat with the district and borough councils but that the county council had supported this need by providing land for sites.

The spokesperson said that the collaboration of all local government bodies in the county to bring forward the Pendell Transit site had led to a review of individual GRT approaches and a county-wide approach was being developed to best meet the needs of the community.

They added: “The GRT community is entitled to the same services as those in the housed community, including the right to occupy premises that are fit for use.

“This includes accessible accommodation and facilities. By providing a transit site in Surrey, the transient GRT population will have the opportunity to address issues such as access to healthcare and social services.

“The provision of power and hot water facilities will help to provide essential temporary respite from the rigours of lives spent on the road.”

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test 2 Responses to Landowner Says He’ll Provide County’s First Short-stay Traveller Site

  1. George Potter Reply

    January 19, 2022 at 1:55 pm

    Journalists really do have short memories. Isn’t this the same site which Mr Hill was recently claiming was contaminated with toxic waste?

    George Potter is a Lib Dem borough and county councillor

    • Daniel Hill Reply

      January 19, 2022 at 4:12 pm

      I suspect everyone sees through these attempts by Cllr Potter and GBC to mislead residents about Stoney Castle.

      He is fully aware there are two sites at Stoney Castle. The first has been an illegal waste dump since the late 1970s with a big mountain of rubbish. Both GBC and SCC have failed to take action against the landowner who still lives in Pirbright. Residents are concerned that toxic waste is leaking out into Hodge Brook. That site is not owned by my family.

      The second brownfield site next door owned by my father is the site being discussed in this story. The Environment Agency has confirmed there is no contamination coming from this land.

      Considering the comments by Cllr Joss Bigmore, Cllr Paul Spooner and Cllr James Walsh at last night’s GBC Scrutiny Committee meeting where the desperate need for both Gypsy, Romany and Traveller transit and permanent sites were discussed I would have thought you would welcome my father’s plan.

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