Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

First Steps towards Regional Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Sites in England: Evidence-Based Planning in Practice

Academic journal article The Town Planning Review

First Steps towards Regional Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Sites in England: Evidence-Based Planning in Practice

Article excerpt

This paper looks at how steps are being taken to meet the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers across England. The broad task of meeting these needs requires evidence from specialist needs assessments to be incorporated within the usual route of land allocation as part of local authorities' Local Planning Documents and Regional Spatial Strategy. The paper takes these steps into consideration and explores how evidence is being created, made sense of, integrated and validated in order to achieve evidence-based planning policy. This system is still developing and reconciling evidence is proving challenging for many regions and localities. The paper concludes that ultimately more robust 'evidence' is required - although it is clear that 'evidence' will never be the sole basis for decisions in such a contentious area of policy.

A new approach to planning for Gypsy and Traveller caravan sites is being implemented across England. At first glance, there seems to be little that is novel, since the approach mirrors the system that has been in place for many years in relation to mainstream bricks and mortar housing. Accommodation needs are to be assessed, after which sufficient land must be allocated in Local Development Documents to meet those needs. Local authorities and registered social landlords will provide sites, with Gypsies and Travellers applying for planning permission in accordance with the 'normal' plan-led process. Just as in mainstream housing, there are roles for local authorities and regional planning bodies: local authorities assess accommodation needs; regional planning bodies determine in the Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) how many pitches each local planning authority must plan for; local planning authorities produce strategies and land allocations to accommodate the required number of pitches. There is also a role for the Secretary of State who can use direction powers to ensure that local planning authorities make adequate provision. The procedures are all set out in central government's Circular 01/2006: Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites (ODPM, 2006a). At the time of writing, the 'ideal' process has not been worked through anywhere and different regions and authorities are at different stages.

The renewed focus on Gypsies and Travellers has provided a new and extensive body of empirical evidence on Gypsy and Traveller accommodation needs and demand for site-based provision. However, despite the policy interest in Gypsy-Travellers, there are few accounts of how the spatial planning system is making sense of Gypsy and Traveller land-use issues; exceptions are Sibley (1978); Home (1994; 2002; 2006); and Ellis and McWhirter (2008). While scarcely revolutionary, the Circular 01/2006 approach to planning for provision of Gypsy and Traveller sites has involved a number of new and challenging tasks for both local authorities and regional planning bodies. This paper focuses on the input at the regional level, covering the nature of the new role, how it is being performed and some of the challenges being faced. In particular, it looks at how different forms of knowledge are being created, made sense of, integrated and validated in order to achieve evidence-based planning policy.

The authors draw on their personal experience of carrying out Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessments (GTAAs) and working with regional planning bodies throughout England to assemble and evaluate the evidence base on Gypsy and Traveller accommodation needs. Reflecting the emphasis in the GTAAs, the paper deals mainly with residential pitches, where Gypsies and Travellers can stay for an indefinite period, rather than with accommodation for more transient needs while travelling. The distinct needs of Travelling Showpeople, covered by parallel circular guidance (DCLG, 2007a), are not discussed within this paper, although it is recognised that many of the issues considered here are also applicable. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.