Review of housing needs for caravans and houseboats
Section 8 of the Housing Act 1985 paces a statutory requirement on local housing authorities to carry out a periodical review of housing needs to assess and understand the needs of people residing or resorting to their district.
Clause 115 of the Housing and Planning Bill 2015 includes a new duty to consider the needs of people residing in or resorting to a district with respect to sites for caravans and the mooring of houseboats.
On 11 March 2016, the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) published Review of housing needs for caravans and houseboats: draft guidance. This is a response to Clause 115 and provides draft guidance for English local housing authorities on the periodical review of housing needs for caravans and houseboats.
The draft guidance provides advice on how to consider these needs where they differ from those of the settled community. This, it suggests, will help local authorities make properly planned provision, avoid problems associated with ad-hoc or unauthorised provision, and strengthen their ability to respond to inappropriate unauthorised developments and encampments.
It provides guidance on:
- Assessing the need for caravans and houseboats.
- Carrying out an accommodation needs assessment.
- Making use of the accommodation needs assessment.
- How to use the outcome of the assessment.
During a discussion about the Housing and Planning Bill at the House of Lords on 17 March 2016, The Bishop of St Albans welcomed the guidance, but suggested it had been rushed out without proper consultation, adding “I know that there are a number of concerns about the proposed guidance, not least the failure to define what is meant by a household —something which has led to a great deal of confusion and cross-authority discrepancies in the past, as authorities have defined it in different ways.” He went on to criticise the lack of mention of Gypsy and Traveller communities and the use of simple categories of caravans and inland waterways which fail to capture the nuanced differences in the needs of the groups for which this legislation is intended.
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