Gypsy and Traveller Plan Site Options

Gypsy and Traveller Plan Site Options May 2014

3. Background

3.1. The Council is required by the Housing Act 2004 and the National Planning Policy for Travellers to meet the accommodation needs of the population within the District, including the needs of the Gypsy and Traveller community and Travelling Showpeople unless it is able to agree that other authorities will meet this need through the Duty to Co-operate.

3.2. This Gypsy and Traveller Plan will eventually form part of the Local Plan for Sevenoaks District, and will set out a number of sound sites allocated to meet the accommodation needs of Gypsy, Traveller, and Travelling Showpeople for the current plan period (up to 2026). This Site Options Consultation Document represents the first stage of consultation, setting out potential site options to address the identified need within the District.

Defining Gypsy and Travellers, and Sites and Pitches

3.3. For the purposes of this document, the definition of Gypsies and Travellers is taken from the national Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (2012):

Gypsies and Travellers -

"Persons of nomadic habit of life whatever their race or origin, including such persons who on grounds only of their own family's or dependants' educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently, but excluding members of an organised group of travelling showpeople or circus people travelling together as such."

Travelling Showpeople -

"Members of a group organised for the purposes of holding fairs, circuses or shows (whether or not travelling together as such). This includes such persons who on the grounds of their own or family's or dependants' more localised pattern of trading, educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently, but excludes Gypsies and Travellers as defined above."

3.4. The terms 'site' and 'pitch' are often used to describe Gypsy and Traveller accommodation, and are commonly confused. It is important therefore to note what is meant by each term to ensure they are not mis-used. 

What do we mean by 'Site' and 'Pitch?'

A Gypsy and Traveller site is an area of land on which Gypsies and Travellers are accommodated. Sites contain one or several units of accommodation. These units are known as a pitch. A pitch is generally home to one household. For example, a public site will almost certainly be home to several families, each who occupy their own pitch within that site.

There is no set definition of what should be contained within a pitch, but it is generally accepted that an average family pitch must be capable of accommodating a large trailer and touring caravan, an amenity building, parking space for two vehicles, and a small garden area (DCLG Designing Gypsy and Traveller Sites - Good Practice Guide para.7.12). Taking into account the available guidance, it is generally accepted that an average pitch size is 500sqm.

 

Main Aim, Objectives and Challenges

3.5. The National Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (PPTS) sets out the requirement for Local Planning Authorities to make their own assessment of need for Gypsy, Traveller, and Travelling Showpeople accommodation, ensuring fair and equal strategies to meet the identified need are developed. Further information on national planning policy in respect of Gypsies and Travellers is set out in section 4 of this consultation document. The main strategic document for Sevenoaks District is the Core Strategy (2011), which sets out the long-term spatial vision for how the District will develop and change up to 2026. The national and local planning policy context is set out in section 4.

3.6. The shortage of authorised Gypsy and Traveller sites across Sevenoaks District provides the key challenge this Plan seeks to address. The Plan will sit alongside the Core Strategy and Allocations and Development Management Plan (ADMP) as development plan documents, and once adopted will allocate sites for Gypsy and Traveller accommodation that have been robustly assessed and are demonstrated to be suitable and deliverable within the plan period.

3.7. The Gypsy, Traveller, and Travelling Showpeople Accommodation Assessment (2012) sets out the need for Sevenoaks District, identifying a requirement for 72 pitches to be delivered between 2012 and the end of the current plan period (2026).

3.8. However, Sevenoaks District is covered to a large extent by planning and landscape constraints, with 93% Metropolitan Green Belt and 61% Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty afforded considerable protection in national policy. These represent challenges to identifying suitable locations to meet the requirement.

3.9. The overarching aim of the Plan is therefore:

To increase the number of authorised Gypsy and Traveller pitches in the most appropriate locations across Sevenoaks District, reducing the number of unauthorised sites, and to enable Gypsy and Travellers to access services and facilities to meet their needs, whilst respecting the needs of the settled community in these locations.

In order to achieve this aim, the Plan seeks to address a number of sub-objectives being:
  • To identify sites that are available, suitable and deliverable to meet the identified need in Sevenoaks District;
  • To allocate sites and grant permission for such sites that are sustainably located so as to improve access to local services and facilities such as education, healthcare provision, and convenience goods, whilst having minimal impact upon the surrounding landscape;
  • To provide clear development management guidance for the assessment of planning applications regarding Gypsy and Traveller sites; and
  • To ensure sites are designed to a high quality, providing a safe and pleasant living environment for residents.
  • To protect the Green belt from inappropriate development, whilst recognising the difficulties of securing Gypsy and Traveller accommodation in the urban areas across the District.

Consultation Questions - Main Aim and Objectives

Q1 Do you agree with the main aim and objectives of the Plan? 

Q2 Do you think there are any other objectives that the Plan should address?