Gypsy and Traveller Plan Site Options

Gypsy and Traveller Plan Site Options May 2014

4. Planning Policy Framework

National Planning Policy and Guidance

4.1. In March 2012, the Government published a new Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (PPTS), in conjunction with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The overarching aim of government policy for Gypsies and Travellers is to ensure their fair and equal treatment in a way that facilitates the traditional and nomadic way of life, while respecting the interests of the settled community (para.3).

4.2. The policy sets out the requirement for local planning authorities (LPAs) to make their own assessment of need, setting their own pitch targets for gypsies and travellers and plot targets for travelling showpeople. This must be based on robust evidence, including engagement and cooperation with the traveller and settled community, and involve collaborative working with neighbouring authorities (para.4).

4.3. Policy B of the PPTS states that Local Plans addressing gypsy and traveller needs should:

  • Identify and update annually a supply of specific deliverable sites sufficient to provide five years worth of sites against their locally set targets;
  • Identify a supply of specific, developable sites or broad locations for growth for years 6-10, and where possible years 11-15;
  • Ensure sites are sustainable economically, socially and environmentally
  • Set criteria to guide land supply allocations and help determine planning applications;
  • Consider the provision of suitable traveller sites for mixed residential and business uses wherever possible; and
  • Protect the Green Belt from inappropriate development, strictly limiting new traveller sites in open countryside away from existing settlements or outside areas allocated in the development plan.

4.4. Regard must also be given to the NPPF, which sets out the Government's overarching planning policies for England with a presumption in favour of sustainable development.

4.5. There are no set requirements of what should be contained within a site or a pitch. In order to assist Local Authorities and those involved in the design and delivery of sites, the Government produced a Good Practice Guide (2008). The guide is intended to concentrate on issues such as how to design successful sites by identifying good practice case studies and examples, and the consideration of the need to achieve a good mix of accommodation.

4.6. Chapter 4 of the Good Practice Guide recommends that, whilst there is no one ideal size of site or number of pitches, experience of site managers and residents alike suggests that a maximum of 15 pitches is conducive to providing a comfortable environment which is easy to manage (para.4.7). It goes on to suggest that smaller sites containing fewer pitches can also be successful, particularly if accommodating one extended family. The guidance recognises that if evidence exists to demonstrate that sites larger than the suggested threshold of 15 pitches is preferable by the local Gypsy or Traveller community, then higher capacities can be acceptable (para.4.8).

Local Planning Policy

4.7. Policy SP6 of the Core Strategy (2011) sets out the criteria by which sites will be assessed for allocation for gypsy and traveller accommodation, and if required, for travelling showpeople alongside national planning policy.

4.8. The identification of sites will take account of the following criteria:

  • The site should be located within or close to existing settlements with a range of services and facilities and access to public transport
  • The site is of a scale appropriate to accommodate the facilities required and will offer an acceptable living environment for future occupants in terms of noise and air quality
  • Safe and convenient vehicular and pedestrian access can be provided to the site
  • The site is not located within an area liable to flood
  • The development will have no significant adverse landscape or biodiversity impact. Particular care will be taken of landscape impacts on AONBs. In the AONBs, sites should only be allocated where it can be demonstrated that the objectives of the designation will not be compromised.
  • Alternatives should be explored before Green Belt locations are considered.

4.9. The policy further states that land allocated for Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople will be safeguarded for this purpose so long as a need exists in the District for accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople.

4.10. Proposals for sites for Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople on other land outside existing settlement confines will only be permitted where it is first demonstrated that the development is for occupation by Gypsies and Travellers or Travelling Showpeople and that the proposed occupant has a need for accommodation that cannot be met on lawful existing or allocated sites in the region. In addition development proposals will need to comply with the criteria above.

4.11. For the purposes of this policy Gypsies and Travellers are people who meet the definition in Circular 01/06, as set out in the Core Strategy.  This definition has now been carried forward into the Government's Planning Policy for Traveller Sites, set out in para 3.3 of this document.