On 25 March 2012 the government issued its new planning policy on the provision of caravan sites for Gypsies and Travellers, including Travelling Showpeople ‘Planning Policy for Traveller Sites’. The document replaces both Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) Circular 01/2006 ‘Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites’ and ODPM Circular 04/2007 ‘Planning for Travelling Showpeople’ and should be read in conjunction with the government’s ‘National Planning Policy Framework’ which was published on 27 March 2012. You can download ‘Planning Policy for Traveller Sites’ here
In Sept 2014 the government issued a consultation entitled ‘Planning and Travellers’ which proposes to change the definition of Gypsy and Traveller for planning purposes to requiring more travelling by the applicant. We oppose these proposed changes, and our response to this consultation is here.
Guide to applying for planning permission
Once you have bought a piece of land you will need to submit a planning application to the Local Planning Authority (LPA).
If you need the help of a planner to do this, a list of planners who have worked on Gypsy sites can be downloaded here.
The most likely outcome will be that your application will fail. You must expect this and expect to have to appeal against the decision. This is very important as this is where things can get expensive that is, not counting the cost of the land, any landscaping you do and any services you might put in. You need to think about all of this before you even begin.
If you are on any benefits, like Income Support or Jobseekers Allowance, you may be entitled to free legal representation, however, it is very difficult to find solicitors willing and able to take this on. If you are on a low income and need assistance with your planning it may be possible to get help from Planning Aid, an independent organisation which assists people with planning issues (http://www.planningaid.rtpi.org.uk)
Chapter 7 also offer free planning advice by telephone for smallholders, caravan dwellers and other low impact and low income people with planning problems. Their tel. no. is 01297 561 359
If you are not able to get free legal representation or help from Planning Aid you will need to employ the services of a private planner and if your case goes to appeal, it is likely to cost you several thousand pounds. For a list of planners with experience of Gypsy and Traveller planning cases download list here.
Once a planning application is submitted the LPA will assess your application. A planning officer will either recommend that it should be accepted or refused. Most Gypsy and Traveller planning cases will go to committee where local councillors will make a decision on whether you should be given planning permission or not. They can ignore the recommendations of the planning officer and make their own decision, which unfortunately more often than not is a refusal. You then have the right to appeal against their decision to the Planning Inspectorate.
At a planning hearing or inquiry, the Planning Inspectorate will look at the merits of your case. Your chances of success at this stage are better, although nothing is guaranteed. Your best chance of success at the appeal stage is if you have strong personal circumstances. This usually includes things like the fact that you have nowhere else to go (no other sites available to you) or you need to stay in the area for health and/or education reasons (your children attend the local school, you are registered with the doctor or you work locally).
For the purposes of the current planning policy ‘Gypsies and Travellers’ means:
Persons of nomadic habit of life whatever their race or origin, including such persons who on grounds only of their own or their family’s or dependants’ educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently, but excluding members of an organised group of travelling showpeople or circus people travelling together as such.
And ‘Travelling Showpeople’ means:
Members of a group organised for the purposes of holding fairs, circuses or shows (whether or not travelling together as such). This includes such persons who on the grounds of their own or their family’s or dependants’ more localised pattern of trading, educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently, but excludes Gypsies and Travellers as defined above.