Derelict ex-army base in Wyke Regis one of eight possible sites for travellers

Dorset Echo: The former Army camp in Wyke Regis The former Army camp in Wyke Regis

A PRIME site overlooking Chesil Beach has been earmarked as a camp for travellers and gypsies.

The former Army camp in Wyke Regis is one of eight locations shortlisted as permanent or transit sites throughout the county.

And the list also includes a site in one village where there are already two camps in operation.

Piddlehinton already has a permanent traveller site and a temporary transit site for the summer months opened this week.

Councils across Dorset have been searching for a county-wide solution to provide sites for travellers since 2010.

Consultants Peter Brett Associates were tasked with assessing potential sites and have come up with a total of nine sites that it considers suitable and have been promoted by the landowners.

Five of the sites are in West Dorset, one in North Dorset and two in East Dorset that are described as being ‘worthy of further investigation’.

The site in Piddlehinton is between the Enterprise Park and the B3143, on a site known as the former Guard House, with potential for seven pitches.

Another site put forward is the former Army camp at Wyke Regis, which is on the edge of the West Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council boundary, which has been deemed to have the potential for six pitches.

Lee Mitchell, general manager of Value House Stores, which is situated next to the old camp, said: “I don’t think it’s a particularly good idea. I would worry about security in the store, both regarding stock and staff, and general trouble in a quiet road.

“I would be particularly concerned about disturbances at night, fly-tipping and litter.

“People walk their dogs here because the area is so peaceful.

“It could possibly deter customers if they were worried about security.

He added: “This area in general is part of a wider area of outstanding natural beauty and by having caravans, white vans and rubbish on the site it’s not protecting that status.

“If the council were going to move forward with this I would like local business and residents to be fully consulted throughout the process.”

Ian Gardner, West Dorset Dist-rict Council’s councillor for Chickerell, which covers Mandeville Road, said: “I wasn’t aware of it, it hasn’t been brought to my attention.

“It’s part of an exercise that the council is obligated to do to show the government they have checked a number of potential sites. I wouldn’t have thought that it would have met the criteria for a site. All planning procedures are subject to public consultation and people would be able to comment on that during the process, if it was selected.”

* Additional reporting by Liz Jackson

'Disappointed' at inclusion of Piddlehinton

West Dorset District Cllr Jacqui Cuff, whose ward includes Piddlehinton, said she was disappointed that the village was again being faced with a further travellers’ site and said she was ‘surprised’ that the consultants’ efforts could find no sites in Weymouth, Bournemouth or Poole.

She said she recognised that travellers needed somewhere to go but stated that Piddlehinton had already done its bit.

Cllr Cuff said: “I am deeply unhappy because I think it’s expecting too much.”

She added: “It’s surprising nothing has been put forward for Poole and Weymouth, and disappointing, because I have been told that those are the areas that the travellers would be looking for sites.

“Weymouth has got facilities available in terms of shops, doctors, hospitals and schooling whereas out in the rural villages you’re struggling to provide those sort of facilities.

Graham McDonald and Roger Cole own Reprint, which employs eight people at the Enterprise Park.

He said he was looking at the possibility of relocating and knew of others on the industrial estate who were thinking the same way because of the traveller camp.

Mr McDonald said: “We have already been looking to move, now we are just looking for the right location.

“There are definitely others who feel the same way.”

The public will now be consulted on these sites and if they go ahead they could be adopted by the end of 2016.

Potential camps

  • Former Guard House in Piddlehinton, West Dorset – seven pitches
  • Former Army camp, Wyke Regis, West Dorset – six pitches
  • Former highway land north of the B road to the west of West Stafford, West Dorset – two pitches
  • Old Chapel Yard, Marshwood, West Dorset – one pitch
  • By The Ford, Moorway Lane, Sandford Orcas, West Dorset – one pitch
  • Land at Conygar Coppice, Okeford Fitzpaine, North Dorset – 15 pitches
  • Land at Crumpets Drive, East Dorset – one pitch
  • Land at Wigbeth Farm, Horton, East Dorset – 12 pitches

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