Skip to main content

Draft East of England Regional Spatial Strategy (Accommodation Provision for Gypsies and Travellers)

Volume 490: debated on Friday 27 March 2009

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Communities is today publishing the Proposed Changes to the draft East of England Regional Spatial Strategy policy on accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers. In addition, the Secretary of State is publishing her decisions on the recommendations of the panel which conducted the examination in public of the draft policy. A sustainability report—encompassing Sustainability Appraisal, Strategic Environmental Assessment and Habitats Regulations Screening Assessment of the Proposed Changes—is also being published.

The proposed changes, and the Secretary of State’s Decisions and Sustainability Report are now subject to an eight week period of public consultation. Consultation responses should be submitted no later than 5 pm on Friday 22 May.

The Secretary of State will carefully consider all responses to the consultation before the Gypsy and Traveller accommodation policy is finalised later this year.

The draft policy was developed by the East of England regional assembly through a rigorous consultation process involving two years of research and consultation with local authorities, businesses, voluntary organisations, the public and Gypsy and Traveller communities, which was submitted to the Secretary of State on 25 February 2008 for 12 weeks public consultation. There was a public examination under an independent panel in October 2008. The Secretary of State’s proposed changes respond to the findings of the panel.

Key elements of the Secretary of State’s proposed changes include:

Increasing the numbers of additional pitches to be provided in the East of England by 2011 from 1,187 to 1,237 (4.2 per cent.) and treating them as minima;

Including provision for transit sites, 160 pitches by 2011;

Including provision for travelling showpeople, 184 pitches by 2011; and

Lower pitch requirements for Basildon and Epping Forest, recognising the particular delivery challenges in those districts.

The policy is part of the longer term planning process for homes within the East of England, and of the Government’s commitment to provide sufficient authorised sites for Gypsies and Travellers to stop the cycle of evictions from unauthorised sites that is both costly to the taxpayer and impacts on the quality of life for the travelling community and wider public.

Copies of the Secretary of State’s proposed changes and decisions, together with the sustainability report, have been placed in the Library of the House and have been provided for the region’s MPs, MEPs and local authorities.