Buying Land

Obtaining planning permission for a residential Gypsy/Traveller site is not a simple process no matter where you live, and will usually require a good few years of applications and appeals before any final decision is reached.

Even if you are successful at appeal, you may only get temporary permission (usually between 3 and 5 years). So the first thing to bear in mind is that it is a considerably difficult and long process. 

When looking for a piece of land on which you want to live there are some things to bear in mind:

  • Try to find a place that is not in the Green Belt. E.g. in an Area of Special Scientific Interest or in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The best type of land is a ‘brown field’ site ( a piece of land that has already had buildings or development on it), but open Countryside is also adequate.
  • Ideally, the site should be well screened. This means any caravans or mobile homes should not be visible from locations that might overlook the site from nearby. If it is visible, this can often be reduced by landscaping.
  • The site should be close to local amenities. This means reasonably close (usually within 3 to 5 miles) to shops, public transport, schools, etc. It should also have or be able to have services such as sewage and electricity installed.
  • The land should be in an area where you have a local connection. For example, you have lived there for a long time, you have close family there, your children attend the local school or you are registered with local doctors.

To check the suitability of a piece of land before you buy it you can approach the local planning authority and ask them to conduct a pre-planning application assessment. This is free and will help in the decision about whether a piece of land has any chance of getting planning permission or whether there are major issues which would mean an application is refused, such as a dangerous access point.

Once you find a piece of land that you think you could live on, you will need to put in a planning application. With regards to costs, the initial fee of applying for planning permission is around £350.

It is advisable to employ a planner who has experience of working on planning permissions for Gypsy and Traveller sites, a list of specialist planners is available in our services directory.

Author: Susan Alexander, Travellers Aid Trust, 2003 (amended 2014) 

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