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Travelling People: Caravan Sites

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 9 September 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance his Department has issued to local authorities and regional planning bodies on the conduct of and methodology for Gypsy and Traveller accommodation assessments (GTAAs); whether it is his Department’s policy that GTAAs should take into account the extent to which the provision of new traveller sites is likely to attract residents from outside the (a) local authority and (b) study area; and what guidance his Department has issued on the extent to which such potential demand should be reflected in assessments of need. (290803)

Communities and Local Government published guidance on “Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessments” in October 2007.

The guidance provides advice to local authorities on carrying out assessments of the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers. It states that the exact approach will need to be adapted to local circumstances.

The responsibility for carrying out the assessment rests with individual local authorities. However, the guidance strongly recommends that local authorities work in partnership with neighbouring authorities. Such an approach will provide a better understanding of migration into, out of, and within the survey area and a better understanding of travelling patterns, particularly where they cross administrative boundaries, factors which must be understood if appropriate provision is to be made.

The guidance advises that the most accurate possible projection of future as well as current need, covering the next 5-10 years, should be made in the assessment. This would include analysis of travelling patterns within the survey area and in and out of surrounding areas; the likely rate of household formation and annual population increase and the intentions of those households planning to move.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what guidance his Department has issued to local planning authorities on whether likely effect on property values is a material consideration in assessing planning applications for Traveller sites. (290805)

Guidance on what matters may be considered as material considerations in assessing planning applications is set out in the ‘The Planning System: General Principles’, which is an Annex to PPS1. This confirms that material considerations must be genuine planning considerations, i.e. they must be related to the development and use of land in the public interest. The considerations must also fairly and reasonably relate to the application. Ultimately, the Courts are the arbiters of what constitutes a material consideration.

Any development may affect the value of one or more existing properties, either positively or negatively. However, in considering planning applications, including those for Traveller sites, case law, e.g. Great Portland Estate v. Westminster City Council [1985], has established that the impact of the proposed development on purely private interests cannot generally constitute a material consideration.

To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government pursuant to the answer of 9 February 2009, Official Report, column 1700W, on planning permission, what guidance has been provided to local planning authorities on equality and diversity in decisions on planning applications relating to Travellers. (290910)

Planning policy for Gypsy and Traveller sites is contained in ODPM Circular 01/06 “Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites”. This confirms that Gypsies and Travellers have the same rights and responsibilities within the planning system as all other applicants for planning permission. The Circular includes guidance highlighting the general duty that local authorities have under the Race Relations Act 1976, as amended by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 to actively seek to eliminate unlawful discrimination and to promote equality of opportunity and good relations in all they do. This duty does not give Gypsies and Travellers a right to establish sites in contravention of planning control.