District Council unveils plans aimed at stopping illegal encampments

Posted on: Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Today Newark and Sherwood District Council has unveiled plans to help prevent illegal encampments in the district.  This follows not only a series of illegal encampments earlier this year but in previous years also. 

These plans will see measures put in place to deter illegal encampments from pitching up on key sites across the district, instead directing them to land that has specifically been allocated for transient travelling groups.

21 at risk sites have been identified across the district.  15 of these are owned or managed by the District Council. 5 sites have been identified as high risk, 8 as medium risk and 8 as low risk:

High risk sites: Sconce and Devon Park, Newbury Road estate, Thorpe Oaks open space, Cleveland Square and Thorpe Close play area.

Medium risk sites: Clay Lane open space, Lincoln Road recreation ground, Mead Way open space, Sherwood Heath, Barnby Road play area, Autumn Croft open space, Riverside park play area, and Collis Close.

Low risk sites: Vicar Water county park, Dodsley Way open space, Lake View open space, Fleming Drive play area, Hawtonville housing office, Boughton open space, Syerston Way and Chestnut Avenue.

The District Council has considered a range of modifications for each site including bollards, height barriers, boulders and access gates.  However, with all locations being in residential areas and with the District Council’s commitment to being cleaner, safer and greener, where possible they are opting for a more natural barrier approach.  Using bunds and the planting of trees is as the heart of the District Council’s plans to tackle the issue head on.  Bunds are earth mounds created to provide a natural looking barrier, they become filled with beautiful wild flowers not only attracting insects but also supporting the District Council’s climate emergency agenda. 

Councillor David Lloyd, Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council said, “Let me make one thing completely clear, these measures are not targeted at our settled Gypsy and Traveller population with whom we have a working relationship and who play a hugely important part in our local community.  These measures are to deter transient groups who set up illegal encampments in our residential areas.  I have heard your frustrations over these illegal encampments and I am not prepared to stand by and let it continue anymore.

“Despite planting nearly 6000 trees over the last year alone, we know we need to constantly look at more ways to enhance our natural habits so, where possible, we will be looking to use bunds and tree planting schemes to form these natural barriers.

“However, it is absolutely important we get this right.  We don’t want to plough on with measures that don’t compliment local areas.  In the four key areas that require more extensive planning and design work, those at Sconce and Devon Park, Thorpe Oaks open space, Newbury Road estate and Thorpe Close, we are currently drawing up artistic visualisations with the support of specialist landscape designers.  This will ensure that residents can see what schemes are being proposed as well as allowing us to apply for the consent required to carry out works on the site of Sconce and Devon Park which is a scheduled ancient monument.  Watch this space because those visualisations will be available to residents shortly!”

Newark and Sherwood has a deep routed connection with our settled Gypsy and Traveller community but is beginning to increasingly suffer with more illegal encampments each year from transient traveller groups.  With each illegal encampment costing the District Council around £7000 to move on and clear up from, they want to put a stop to this and prevent the tax payer picking up the bill in the future. 

In identifying and prioritising locations where these measures will be implemented, the District Council considered the sites history, proximity to main roads, ease of access onto the site and the size of the green space area.  When the artist impressions are ready, the District Council will ensure they are available online on the Illegal encampments web page.