Buying Land and Applying for Planning Permission

Obtaining planning permission for a piece of land you’ve bought is not a simple process, regardless of where you live, and will usually take a good few years of applications and appeals before any final decision is made.


Buying Land

When looking for land to live on or to turn into a Gypsy and Traveller site, keep these things in mind:

  • Avoid Green Belt Areas: This includes Areas of Special Scientific Interest or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
  • Best Type of Land: A ‘brown field’ site (land that has already had buildings or development on it) is ideal, but open countryside can also be suitable.
  • Visibility: Caravans should not be easily seen from nearby places. Landscaping, like adding hedgerows, can help reduce visibility.
  • Proximity to Amenities: The land should be within 3 to 5 miles of shops, public transport, schools, etc. It should also have sewage and electricity installed or be capable of installation.
  • Local Connection: Having lived in the area for years, having close family nearby, or having a child in a local school can help your case.
  • Check Suitability: Contact your local authority to see if the land is suitable. Request a pre-planning assessment to understand your chances of getting planning permission and any possible barriers.
Applying for Planning

Once you have bought suitable land, you need to apply for planning permission to live there or set up a site. Follow these steps:

  1. Contact a Planner: Find a planner with experience in Gypsy and Traveller sites. A list of planners is in our services directory.
  2. Submit Your Application: Send your application to your local planning authority (LPA). You can find your LPA here. Complete the form on the LPA’s website or through the Planning Portal.
  3. Pay the Fee: There is usually a planning application fee. Use this cost calculator to estimate the cost.
  4. Assessment: A committee of local councillors will assess your application.
  5. Prepare for Rejection: Most planning applications are rejected. Be ready to appeal the decision in high court. You will need a planning solicitor, which you can find in our directory.
  6. Appeal Stage: Chances of success are higher at the appeal stage, but nothing is guaranteed. Strong personal circumstances, like having a child in a local school or working locally, can help your case.
  7. Free Advice: If you are on benefits or have a low income, you can get free planning advice from Planning Aid. You might also be entitled to free legal representation through Legal Aid. Find information about Legal Aid on our website here.
Planning Policy

‘Planning Policy for Traveller Sites’ (PPTS) is the current policy for caravan sites for Gypsies and Travellers. Since December 2023, the definition of Gypsies and Travellers is:

Persons of nomadic habit of life, including those who have stopped traveling temporarily or permanently due to education, health needs, or old age. This does not include traveling showpeople or circus people.

This means that Travellers who have stopped traveling permanently are still recognized as Travellers in planning policy and can have their needs assessed for site provision.

Planning Advice Contacts

Planning Aid

  • Service: Free planning advice for those who cannot afford it.
  • Phone: 0370 774 9494
  • Email: [email protected]

Chapter 7

  • Service: Free planning advice by phone for smallholders, caravan dwellers, and low-income people with planning problems.
  • Phone: 01297 561359
  • Email: [email protected]

If you are experiencing difficulties, please contact the Friends, Families and Travellers helpline on 01273 234 777. We are open Monday to Friday10am to 4.30pm excluding bank holidays.

Correct as of May 2024.

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