The government is committed to ensuring fair and equal treatment for travellers, in a way that facilitates their traditional and nomadic way of life while respecting the interests of the settled community. In August 2015, the government produced new guidance.
The new guidance Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (August 2015) replaces earlier circulars. Since abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies and their pitch targets for local authorities, councils can now decide for themselves how many Traveller pitches are necessary according to local need and historic demand.
Why was new planning policy needed?
Previous guidance failed to provide enough sites for gypsies and travellers in many parts of the country. Gypsies and travellers are believed to experience the worst health and education of any disadvantaged group in England. The government now expects local authorities to take the lead in assessing the needs of gypsies and travellers alongside the needs of the settled population and to ensure that those needs are reflected in statutory planning documents.
What is happening in Dorset?
Dorset councils, including Bournemouth and Poole, are now working together to prepare a Dorset-wide Gypsy and Traveller (including Travelling Showpeople) Joint Development Plan Document. This will allocate permanent and transit sites for Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople to meet identified needs for the next 15 years.
The number of sites and pitches needed has been reviewed in the light of the new government guidance. The results can be found in the Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole Gypsy and Traveller and Travelling Showpeople Accommodation Assessment prepared for the councils by consultants Opinion Research Services.
A first stage of consultation on possible sites was held at the end of 2011. Information about this, including a report on the results of the consultation and a range of background information about the process is available.
Report of consultation on additional sites: September - October 2014
During the first stage of consultation in 2011/2012, a number of additional sites with potential for use by gypsies and travellers were suggested. These have now been assessed in the same way as the original sites. The sites that satisfied the assessment criteria were the subject of a further consultation, which took place between 15 September and 24 October 2014. The sites were in three of the council areas in Dorset: East Dorset District, North Dorset District and West Dorset District.
The report of the consultation exercise Dorset wide Gypsy and Traveller Site Allocations (including Travelling Showpeople) Joint Development Plan Document (DPD) is now published.
What happens next?
The results of this and the original site assessment consultation will now be considered together in the light of the 2017 GTAA to draw up a list of preferred sites. These will be published for a further round of consultation in a "Pre-Submission" Plan.
Who to contact
If you would like further information on the DPD project, contact the Planning Policy team at your district or borough council - see contact information below.