West Lothian retirement home for travellers and gypsies would be a UK first
A SPECIALLY designed retirement village for elderly gypsies and travellers in West Lothian is set to be the first of its kind in the UK.
The multi-million pound Kirknewton site will feature 27 lodges around a community centre with landscaped grounds if given the go-ahead.
Planning officers have recommended giving the green light at Wednesday’s West Lothian Council development management committee.
“I am absolutely delighted that the planning officials have recommended approval and have recognised the benefits this would bring,” said mastermind Jack Hendry, who has his origins in the travelling community.
“I know through my own family how difficult it is for older people from the gypsy/traveller community to find suitable accommodation and the necessary associated care services.”
A report by officers states the development, less than a mile from Kirknewton, would bring sufficient benefits to allow councillors to grant planning permission.
Their report states: “The unique nature of the proposal means that it does not fit precisely into development plan policy.
“However on balance, it is considered that the benefits the proposed development would bring to the gypsy/travelling community, and the suitability of the site for the development make the proposal worthy of support.”
The lodges would be for sale, lease or rent and the owners would contribute to a common fund for the maintenance of the open spaces and community building.
Although designed for members of the gypsy/traveller community, plans are designed to attract mainstream community residents also and encourage greater social integration.
"Meets government and council aspirations on inclusivity and breaking down discriminatory attitudes.”
Planners’ report adds: “The concept of a retirement village catering for that sector of the community, offering accommodation of the specific type that is required, and support for the residents, is unique and meets government guidance as well as council priorities.
“The fact that the development, although aimed at retired gypsies and travellers, would be available to other members of the wider community meets government and council aspirations on inclusivity and breaking down discriminatory attitudes.”
Mr Hendry said: “The consultants working on this project have answered all the objections raised and we have been delighted with the level of understanding from planning officials.
“Clearly, we will comply with any be conditions attached to any permission granted. We are just keen to move ahead as soon as possible.
“There are already five names on a waiting list and the first homes could be occupied within a year.”