Travellers petition Khan over five year delay in handing over promised site

Hackney Travellers Action Group outside Bartrip Street South. Pic: London Gypsy and Travellers

A group of Travellers are petitioning London Mayor Sadiq Khan angry that they have not been provided with a site in Hackney Wick, five years after it was promised to them.

Two million pounds was allocated in 2014 by the London Legacy Development Company (LLDC) to develop the site at Bartrip Street South but this comes under review in June 2020, increasing the urgency for the Travellers to ensure the promise is kept.

Transport for London, Hackney Council, the London Assembly and the LLDC all claim to be working together, but after five years, a lease is yet to be agreed.

The Hackney Travellers Action Group told Eastlondonlines that in the absence of traveller sites in the area, many have spent most of their lives in temporary accommodation. The petition aims to secure the future of their homes and the future of their children.  

They said: “We have been waiting for new sites to be built for a long time, so we can live side by side with the wider community in a way that can keep our culture alive.”

Currently owned by TfL, the area is a small plot of land tucked behind an underpass in Hackney Wick. Given its potential to provide space for nine much-needed traveller pitches, the London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) allocated the land specifically ‘for gypsy and traveller use’ in their Local Plan 2015 to 2031. 

Bartrip Street South land Pic: Lois Borny

Two million pounds were set aside to fund the development.

LLDC said that Hackney Council can make a bid for the money, and if this bid is approved – which is “very ‘likely” – the developments can go ahead.

Hackney Council said that they would make a bid for the money, but that this cannot happen until a lease is agreed upon by all parties involved.

Location of site in Hackney Wick. Pic: OpenStreetMap

When asked whether the money would remain allocated to the development following the review, they said they could not say for certain at this point.

They said: “We are working to support the delivery of the site allocation with the GLA, London Borough of Hackney and TfL.”

When asked why negotiating a lease was taking so long, a TfL spokesman said that there exists a “range of factors including access and air quality [to] ensure that any proposals for the site are feasible and safely delivered.” 

Both TfL and Hackney Council were unable to comment on how long it would take to bring a ‘suitable’ site forward.

The London Gypsies and Travellers organisation claims that over the last 17 years, only one permanent traveller site has been built in London, while three have been closed down. 

In the light of this uncertainty, Hackney Travellers Action Group said: “We’d like to see Transport for London and Hackney council and all the other parties involved deliver this site urgently as time is running out.”

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