Revised planning policy on traveller sites which confirms they constitute “inappropriate development” in Green Belt locations has been published by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).
The new policy forms part of a broader package, including changes to planning law to limit retrospective planning applications for any form of unauthorised development and the provision of incentives for new and refurbished traveller sites, intended to deliver a better balance between site provision and enforcement.
The new guidance made it clear that there should be “due regard for the protection of the local environment and amenities” when local authorities set out their criteria for allocating sites.
The new planning policy gives councils the responsibility to determine the right level of traveller site provision in their area, in consultation with local communities.
The guidance called for more private traveller site provision while recognising that there will always be travellers who cannot provide their own sites.
The guidance stressed that plan-making and decision-taking should aim to reduce the number of unauthorised developments and encampments and make enforcement more effective.
Local planning authorities should ensure their local plan includes fair, realistic and inclusive policies which should increase the number of traveller sites in appropriate locations with planning permission, address under-provision and maintain an appropriate level of supply, the advice said.
Local Government Minister Bob Neill said: "These new policies will allow local authorities to govern their own affairs whilst ensuring that both travellers and the settled communities get a fair deal through the planning system."
DCLG had previously announced the inclusion of traveller sites in the New Homes Bonus to reward councils that deliver additional sites. This means that councils will get financial benefits for building authorised traveller sites where they are needed.
28 March 2012