Today, Friends Families and Travellers and the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gypsies, Travellers and Roma released an event report written by Jo Richardson of De Montfort University. The report details conversations from a 17 October 2019 roundtable event in parliament on challenging and improving planning policy for Gypsies and Travellers.
The event was hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Gypsies, Travellers and Roma with Friends Families and Travellers and chaired by Marc Willers QC. Those present included representatives from civil society organisations, members of Gypsy and Traveller communities, parliamentarians, private planners and representation from the Planning Inspectorate and a Housing Association.
Some of the key challenges presented at the roundtable were:
- The insufficient amount of Gypsy and Traveller sites across the UK to meet existing need, along with the health and social impacts that this creates.
- Changes to the planning definition of Gypsies and Travellers has resulted in a reduction in pitches required in accommodation assessments.
- To be defined as Travellers under planning law, there must be proof of nomadism. Yet, travelling is impossible without enough stopping places.
- The link between insecure accommodation and a negative impact on wellbeing.
The report calls on the Government to reintroduce pitch targets and a statutory duty on councils to meet the need for Traveller sites, establish a national Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Strategy, to review flaws within the 2015 Planning Policy for Traveller Sites guidance and to ring-fence funding for local authorities to build Gypsy and Traveller sites.
The report also highlights a need for further research to be undertaken on the ‘data gap’ produced by councils seeking injunctions citing increases in unauthorised encampments, whilst simultaneously reducing identified need in Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessments.
Speaking about the report, Abbie Kirkby, Advice and Policy Manager at Friends Families and Travellers:
“This report presents yet another indictment of the Government’s planning policy, or lack of, for Gypsies and Travellers. Requiring proof of nomadism whilst criminalising trespass without proper site provision demonstrates the fundamental lack of understanding of the issue at hand within Government ranks.”
Notes for Editor
About Friends, Families and Travellers (FFT)
Friends, Families and Travellers is a leading national charity that works on behalf of all Gypsies, Roma and Travellers regardless of ethnicity, culture or background.
Sami McLaren, Communications Officer
Tel: 01273 234 038 Email: [email protected]
Friends Families and Travellers and Jo Richardson. February 2020. ‘Roundtable report: Challenging and improving planning policy for Gypsies and Travellers’. View report.