Last edited 12 Dec 2020

Revised planning policy for traveller sites

On 31 August 2015, new measures came into force giving protection against unauthorised occupation, with publication of a revised Planning policy for traveller sites. The new policy is intended to strengthen councils powers to tackle unauthorised development and ensure all communities are treated equally.

The government suggest that between 2000 and 2009 there was a 4-fold increase in the numbers of caravans on unauthorised sites. Councils and the police have a range of powers available to deal with unauthorised development, and in 2015, Brandon Lewis MP and Mike Penning MP wrote to councils, police commissioners and police forces to remind them of this.

Under the new policy, if a local planning authority cannot demonstrate an up-to-date 5 year supply of deliverable sites, this should be a significant material consideration in subsequent planning decision relating to applications for the grant of temporary planning permission.

However, the exception to this is where the proposal is on land designated as:

Furthermore, in exceptional cases, where there is a large-scale unauthorised site that has significantly increased the local need, and the area is subject to strict and special planning constraints, there is no assumption that the local planning authority is required to plan to meet traveller site needs in full.

In addition, any application for a permanent site, including caravan sites, by someone who does not travel will be considered in the same way as an application from the settled population rather than being considered under policies relating to travellers.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark said, “I’m determined to ensure fairness in the planning system, so everyone abides by the same rules. Today’s new policy strengthens the hand of councils to tackle unauthorised development in their area, ensures all communities are treated equally and that the protection of the Green Belt is enforceable.”

Housing and Planning Minister Brandon Lewis said, “Unauthorised traveller sites can blight communities, causing misery for their neighbours and creating resentment that planning rules don’t seem to be applied fairly. Today’s revised planning policy clearly sets out the protection against unauthorised occupation and that the rules apply fairly to every community equally – no ifs, no buts.”

However, charity Traveller Movement believe the new measures will '...result in many community members being forced onto the road, increasing numbers of unauthorised sites and damaging community cohesion; all issues which the new guidance apparently aims to improve'.

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