LEEDS City Council has opened its first facility for gypsy and traveller families in over 20 years.
The new site, called Kidacre Park by the eight families who now call it home, is situated in the Hunslet area.
It was developed with the council’s commuted sum funding, along with support from Homes England. Built on the site of a disused former council depot, construction began in late 2017 and it opened to new residents in December last year.
Kidacre Park becomes the second dedicated traveller site. The other, Cottingley Springs in Gildersome, opened 49 years ago.
Each family plot contains a pre-constructed living pod, which consists of a kitchen, bathroom and dining area with one of the living pods being specially adapted for disabled tenants.
“I recognise it is difficult to come up with a perfect solution that all communities across Leeds agree on, but it is vital we take steps to provide stable housing options for gypsy and traveller families,” said Councillor Debra Coupar, the city council’s executive board member for communities.
“Our work with the travelling community has been applauded as national best practice and we are dedicated to finding short and long-term practical solutions to meet the needs of our local communities as well as travellers themselves. Kidacre Park is a result of this and it will provide a home for eight families and an alternative to unauthorised encampments elsewhere in the city.”
Councillor Richard Lewis, executive board member for regeneration, transport and planning, added: “The council assessed a number of sites very carefully before moving forward with this development and I’m thrilled that the families have now been able to move in.
“Provision plans for gypsies and travellers are part of Leeds City Council’s core strategy, and were developed in partnership with Leeds GATE and in line with government guidance. Kidacre Park offers an opportunity to provide facilities which best meet the needs of the whole community as well as providing value for money.”
Leeds GATE, established in 2002, is a membership organisation for gypsy and traveller families in West Yorkshire. A spokesperson said: “Leeds GATE members are delighted to be moving on to this new site development, the first in over twenty years.
“Some of the families have been homeless for many years, trapped in a cycle of unauthorised encampment and eviction. The difference that having stable accommodation can make to the lives of individuals and families is huge – including access to doctors and education.
“We are so pleased that Leeds City Council is making provision for its gypsy and traveller community members and we have hope for greater provision and inclusion of travellers as a part of our city for the future.”