The Government has announced a shake-up of planning policy involving Travellers and Gypsies. In new proposed planning guidelines, the Green Belt and countryside will have more robust protection, local councils will have more discretion, and local planning authorities will have a stronger hand in supporting appropriate development, ministers said.
Central guidance to councils on compulsorily purchasing land for Traveller’s sites will be removed and top-down Whitehall planning rules, which the administration believed were counterproductive, will be abolished.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "Top-down planning diktats led to the worst of both worlds - more unauthorised sites and worsening community relations. It's time for fair play in the planning system - standing up for those who play by the rules and tougher action for those who abuse and play the system.”
He added: "We are giving councils the power and discretion to protect the environment and help rebuild community relations. Clearer planning guidelines will make the planning system easier for all to understand.”
Under this new planning policy, now out for consultation, councils will have both the freedom and responsibility to determine the right level of Traveller site provision in their areas, in consultation with local communities.
Measures include stronger enforcement powers for councils and stronger powers for councils to limit the opportunities for retrospective planning applications which should help councils tackle any form of unauthorised development.
Ministers have also confirmed that the Department for Communities and Local Government will provide up to £1.2m for Basildon Council to clear the unauthorised pitches on the Green Belt at the Dale Farm Traveller site.
In addition ministers are proposing stronger rights for residents of authorised council sites; new incentives to build authorised sites thanks to the New Homes Bonus scheme and £60m of funding that councils and other registered providers can use to provide new authorised sites for travelers.
The consultation will consider the details of a proposed new, single Planning Policy Statement that will replace Circular 01/2006: Planning Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites and Circular 04/2007: Planning for Travelling Show people. It will run until 6 July 2011.
6 May 2011