New travellers' pitches approved near Somerset gigafactory site

Site of two new travellers' pitches on the A39 Puriton Hill in Puriton
-Credit: (Image: Google Maps)


New travellers' pitches will be created a stone's throw from the site of Somerset's new £4bn gigafactory following a decision by council planning officers. Mr. L. Ayres applied to create a new travellers' site with two pitches on land at Rockfield House on the A39 Puriton Hill in Puriton, just over a mile from the Gravity enterprise zone where Agratas will shortly begin constructing its gigafactory.

The new pitches will include a static caravan for each occupant, with space for a touring caravan and a shared amenity block for residents. Somerset Council has approved the plans, meaning the new pitches could be in operation by the end of the summer.

The site lies on the southern side of the A39, a short distance from the roundabout leading to the Gravity site and just to the north of the King's Sedgemoor Drain. The new pitches will be within walking distance of a bus stop served by two local services - the 66 route between Bridgwater and Axbridge, and the 75 route between Bridgwater and Wells.

READ MORE: Bridgwater Town Council forced to raid reserves to cover £420,000 overspend - just weeks after agreeing "historic" devolution deal

READ MORE: General election 2024: new Somerset seat could be crucial marginal as Conservatives losses predicted across the south west

A spokesman for H. C. Planning (representing Mr Ayres) said: "The site is suitably located to provide two pitches for families who meet the definition of gypsies and travellers. Given the significant unmet need for gypsy and traveller sites in the former Sedgemoor area, including the lack of a five-year land supply, the presumption in favour of sustainable development applies.

"This application represents an opportunity to assist in meeting this need, through the provision of two additional private pitches, to meet the needs of these families." This is the second travellers' site to be approved near the Gravity site in the last six month, after the council's planning committee north voted in December 2023 in favour of four additional pitches at the Green Paddock site on Cossington Lane in Cossington, near Woolavington.

The Puriton Hill proposals were approved by the delegated powers of the council's planning officers, rather than a public decision by the same committee. Even with this approval, the council will need to provide a further 21 pitches across the former Sedgemoor area by 2032.

A report on the council's wider approach to gypsy and traveller accommodation will be discussed by its communities scrutiny committee in Taunton on Thursday (June 13) at 10am. A full strategy for delivering new travellers' accommodation, both temporary and permanent, is expected to come before the council's executive committee before the end of the year.