FURIOUS business owners have joined the battle against plans for a controversial gypsy and traveller site near Radford Semele.
They are opposing plans to build 15 permanent pitches, holding up to 30 caravans with large service buildings, for the gypsy and traveller communities, which it is feared could lead to the closure of the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre.
Warwick District Council has drawn up a shortlist of sites following consultation on 20 possible locations, during which 24 further options were proposed by members of the public.
But despite nearly 1,000 objections to the original plans for a site on the Fosse Way next to the exhibition centre, it remains an ‘alternative’ site.
The consultation period closes on Monday (May 5) but incensed business owners in the area have signed a petition arguing building a permanent gypsy and traveller site on exhibition centre owned land would be devastating for them.
They estimate as many as 80 jobs could be lost and the impact cost-wise on the local economy could be more than £2 million a year.
According to an impact study commissioned by the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre owners, businesses in the surrounding area will suffer significant loss of income and some may have to close.
The study highlights the contribution to the local economy from nearly 40,000 annual visitors to the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre with spending in local shops, restaurants, hotels, B&B and other local amenities.
Warwickshire Exhibition Centre owner Chris Deith said as a direct result of the council’s announcement to earmark the exhibition centre land as a possible gypsy site for development last summer, he had already lost a number of bookings for events.
David Craven, spokesman for RAID (Residents Against Inappropriate Development), said the the council’s planning process had been ‘fundamentally flawed’ from the outset.
He added: “There is no adequate explanation as to why the Warwickshire Exhibition Centre is ‘a green’ on the traveller site short list when residents have roundly rejected the plan as unworkable. There are countless sites in the area which will not necessitate the closure of a unique local business, the negative impact to the economy and the resultant cost for local tax payers.”