Social Welfare Lawyers in the Centre of Birmingham

Redefining Travellers Out Of Existence

This is how Andrew George MP described the new Government consultation on ‘planning and travellers’ in the Sunday Times on 14 September: The consultation can be found at: The deadline for responses is 23 November 2014.

The main proposals are: 1. Current policy requires that those who have ceased travelling permanently for reasons of health, education or old age (be it their needs or their family’s or dependents’) are for the purposes of planning treated in the same way as those who continue to travel. The Government feels that where a member of the travelling community has given up travelling permanently, for whatever reason, and applies for a permanent site then that should be treated no differently to an application from the settled population. 2. The Government wishes to simplify and streamline the processes for assessing needs of gypsies and travellers (to use the small case ‘g’ and ‘t’ they pointedly use) for planning and housing purposes. They would like, therefore, to seek views on amending secondary legislation to bring the definition of “gypsies and travellers”, set out under the 2006 regulations, into line with the proposed planning definition of “travellers” set out above.  3. Paragraph 23 of ‘Planning Policy for Traveller Sites’ requires local planning authorities to strictly limit new traveller site development in open countryside. The Government wishes to strengthen this to reflect the importance of accounting for the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside. The Government therefore proposes amending paragraph 23 to say “Local planning authorities should very strictly limit new traveller site development in open countryside.” 4. The Government proposes to amend paragraph 25 in ‘Planning Policy for Traveller Sites’ to make clear that it does not apply to land designated as Green Belt; sites protected under the Birds and Habitats Directives and / or sites designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest; Local Green Space, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or within a National Park (or the Broads). The absence of an up-to-date five year supply of deliverable sites would therefore no longer be a significant material consideration in favour of the grant of temporary permission for sites in these areas. It would remain a material consideration, but its weight would be a matter for the decision taker. 5. The Government proposes to amend national planning policy and ‘Planning Policy for Traveller Sites’ to provide that, subject to the best interests of the child, unmet need and personal circumstances are unlikely to outweigh harm to the Green Belt and any other harm so as to establish very special circumstances. 6. The Government proposes to amend national planning policy and ‘Planning Policy for Traveller Sites’ to make clear that intentional unauthorised occupation, whether by travellers or members of the settled community, should be regarded by decision takers as a material consideration that weighs against the grant of permission. 7. The Government propose to amend ‘Planning Policy for Traveller Sites’ to set out that in exceptional cases, where a local authority is burdened by a large-scale unauthorised site which has significantly increased their need, and their area is subject to strict and special planning constraints, then there is no assumption that the local authority is required to plan to meet their traveller site needs in full. 8. In line with the recently published streamlined planning guidance, the Government wishes to consult on updated planning guidance to support councils in objectively and accurately assessing their own traveller needs as set out in ‘Planning Policy for Traveller Sites’.

Obviously it will be important that as many people and organisations as possible put in objections to these disastrous and prejudiced proposals. Hopefully groups will be circulating drafts and ideas well in advance of the consultation deadline to assist others.  Please sign the No Mad Laws petition  To read more about the No Mad Laws Campaign click here.