RESIDENTS are being given the chance to have their say on controversial plans to bring new travellers sites to their community.

Council bosses have identified sites in Madrid Avenue, Rayleigh, Greenacres, Hawkwell and two sites – including Rayleigh Golf Range - in Chelmsford Road, Rayleigh on which to to build sites to house travellers and gypsies.

Another site in Eastwood Road was also identified but was withdrawn at the meeting of Rochford District Council’s planning sub-committee yesterday.

Now, the plans for the remaining identified sites will go out for public consultation, which is set to last six weeks, after members voted in favour of the action at Wednesday’s meeting.

Ian Ward, councillor responsible for planning, said: “The site near Eastwood Road was withdrawn, but now the council can fully press ahead with the public consultation for the other sites, which has begun now.

“I’m really keen to push it out there that the council now wants residents to share their views on the site, it will be extremely helpful to know what other people think about the sites. We as a district council have a legal responsibility to provide sites or provide an opportunity for travellers to move onto sites to oversee themselves, this is something authorities are doing across Essex.”

Richard Lambourne, chair of Rayleigh Action Group, said: “Whilst I acknowledge that we need to provide spaces for travellers you have to ask whether this site and indeed anywhere in Rayleigh is suitable. All our schools are full, our roads are gridlocked at key times. This particular site is in a necessary buffer to the A127 in a residential area.

“I think this is too much change in one place. In previous plans it was suggested that Michelins Farm at Fairglen on the A127 be used, why has it been discarded?”

More than 2,900 residents have signed a petition to stop developing land in Rayleigh into travellers’ sites. The consultation will begin on February 25 and will last until 5pm on April 8.

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