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Regional Spatial Strategy: East of England

Volume 712: debated on Monday 20 July 2009

Statement

My honourable friend the Under-Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is today publishing the revision to the East of England plan (the revision to the East of England regional spatial strategy) concerning accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers and travelling showpeople, together with the accompanying supporting document, which includes a summary of consultation responses and a sustainability statement. This final, single-issue revision to the East of England plan reflects consideration of responses to the consultation on the Secretary of State's proposed changes, which were made in the light of the recommendations of the independent panel who conducted an examination in public into the draft policy.

This is the completion of an important single-issue revision to the East of England plan, which was published in May 2008. It builds on the foundations of the draft policy, which was prepared by the East of England Regional Assembly and the findings of the independent panel who conducted an examination in public.

The policies that are published today become part of the East of England plan and provide a framework for local planning authorities to prepare relevant policies in their development plan documents, which must be in general conformity with the East of England plan.

The strategy reflected in the final policies aims to guide development of additional accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers and travelling showpeople in the East of England most immediately to 2011, and in the longer term to 2021.

The policies adopt the independent panel's conclusion that the number of pitches in the region should be slightly increased from the total proposed in the draft policy, in recognition of the pressing need for additional accommodation in the East of England. They also reflect the panel's conclusions that the revision should make provision for additional transit sites for temporary use by Gypsies and Travellers and more permanent plots for seasonal use by travelling showpeople. The spatial strategy reflected in the policies provides for meeting the most pressing accommodation needs where they arise coupled with an equitable distribution of additional pitch and plot requirements across the region's local authority areas.

The policies were subject to assessment under the habitats regulations. The sustainability statement concludes that the policies are in accordance with the principles of sustainable development and that they do not give rise to adverse environmental impacts.

The culmination of this single-issue review of the East of England plan represents an important milestone in putting in place a strategic framework for addressing the pressing accommodation needs of the Gypsy and Traveller and travelling showpeople communities. The essential task now is to ensure that the policies are implemented quickly and effectively. We look forward to working with the local authorities and other key partners on their delivery.

The policies resulting from the review, together with the supporting document, have been placed in the Library of the House and have been provided for all of the region's MPs, MEPs and local authorities.