Policy H/GT: Gypsy and Traveller and Travelling Showpeople sites

DRAFT version for various committee meetings.

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What will this policy do?

The policy will set out how the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople will be provided for over the plan period, and provide policy guidance regarding the location and design of sites.

Proposed policy direction

The Local Plan will respond to the need for new pitches for Gypsies and Travellers and plots for Travelling Showpeople, which are currently being explored through an updated needs assessment.

Subject to the needs identified, this is likely to be addressed through a combination of requiring provision from large scale new communities and significant major development sites, stand alone allocations, and the inclusion of a policy to enable windfalls in suitable locations.

National planning policy requires that criteria should be set to guide land supply allocations where there is identified need that cannot be met on existing sites. The following criteria are proposed:

  • Sites are capable of providing an appropriate environment for residents in terms of health, safety, and living conditions, sufficient space for accommodating and moving caravans and vehicles, safe vehicle and pedestrian access, and are capable of being provided with essential utilities
  • The number and nature of pitches or plots provided is appropriate to the site size and the location, and would not have unacceptable adverse impacts on the amenity of surrounding land uses, the countryside and landscape character, settlement character, heritage or biodiversity interests, rights of way, or from traffic generated, including taking account of cumulative impacts.
  • The needs of residents of the site can be met appropriately by local facilities and services without placing undue pressure on them, and the scale of such sites does not dominate the nearest settled community, including considering cumulative impacts with other sites.
  • The site is located within a reasonable distance of local facilities and services including schools and health facilities.

Traveller sites are inappropriate development in the Green Belt. Any proposals in the Green Belt would have to comply with national policy regarding development in the Green Belt.

A design focused policy will also be included in the Local Plan, to ensure sites are built to an appropriate quality to meet the needs of future residents.

The Local Plan will continue to safeguard existing sites.

Why is this policy needed?

National policy, set out in the Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (PPTS), is aimed at ensuring “fair and equal treatment for travellers, in a way that facilitates the traditional and nomadic way of life of travellers while respecting the interests of the settled community”. It requires local planning authorities to assess the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople, and to set requirements to address this.

In partnership with other Councils in Cambridgeshire and parts of Norfolk and Suffolk a new accommodation needs assessment has been commissioned and is underway. However, it has been delayed significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this process we are seeking to engage effectively with traveller communities, their representatives, and other stakeholders, to understand the number of permanent residential pitches required for Gypsies and Travellers and the number of permanent plots for Travelling Showpeople that are needed. It has not been possible to complete this survey in time to inform this consultation. It will be available at the next stage of plan making, and will be used to inform the draft Local Plan and what provision is required.

Some Gypsies and Travellers have ceased to travel and therefore no longer meet the PPTS definition for the purposes of planning. As well as those who meet the definition, the needs assessment will seek to identify the needs of Gypsies and Travellers that no longer travel, as part of the requirement under the Housing Act to consider the needs of people living on sites on which caravans can be stationed. This potential need was one of the issues highlighted by the Inspector examining the 2018 Local Plans to be addressed through this Local Plan review, and the plan will need to identify how this need will be addressed.

Government policy aims to promote more private traveller provision. Whilst promoters of a number of large sites indicated they could form part of a future dwelling mix, no stand alone sites were submitted for consideration during the two ‘call for sites’ consultations. This consultation provides a further opportunity for sites to be put forward.

Sites for Travelling Showpeople need to be suitable for the storage, maintenance and testing of items of mobile equipment. There are two existing sites in Greater Cambridge. The South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018 identified a modest level of need for further plots. The updated needs assessment will provide an opportunity to get an up to date position regarding need.

Issues of sustainability apply to Gypsy and Traveller and Travelling Showpeople sites, emphasised by government policy. National planning guidance also requires that local planning authorities very strictly limit new traveller site development in open countryside that is away from existing settlements.

To ensure that the levels of Gypsy and Traveller and Travelling Showpeople accommodation are maintained, sites are safeguarded to meet the continuing housing needs of these communities. Safeguarding will ensure that sites are not lost to competing uses.

What consultation have we done on this issue?

Responses to the First Conversation considered that consultation on this issue must be wide ranging and include the Gypsy and Traveller community, the wider community and neighbouring authorities. A sound evidence base was important to understand needs. There was support for the allocation of sites and to improve the quality of sites through the better provision of support services on site. There is also support for a dispersed approach with more and smaller sites, including temporary sites, to provide flexibility and choice.

What alternatives did we consider?

No policy - Not considered a reasonable alternative as plans are required to include policies and address needs.

Supporting evidence studies and topic papers

  • Greater Cambridge Local Plan: Topic paper 7: Homes

Existing policies in adopted 2018 Local Plans

South Cambridgeshire Local Plan 2018

  • Policy H/20: Provision for Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeopl
  • Policy H/21: Gypsy and Traveller Provision at New Communities
  • Policy H/22: Proposals for Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople Sites on Unallocated Land Outside Development Frameworks
  • Policy H/23: Design of Gypsy and Traveller Sites, and Travelling Showpeople Sites

Cambridge Local Plan 2018

  • Policy 49: Provision for Gypsies and Travellers

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