Waverley’s Local Plan Part 1 requires the council to provide suitable sites to meet the needs of travellers and gipsies. Now in LP Part 2, they are being provided for.
Following an assessment made of their needs in 2017, it was found that 43 traveller pitches were needed plus two sites for show people. However, as some development has already taken place – 17 pitches have been allocated in the borough – mainly in Farnham and Cranleigh.
However. In the life of the plan, the Council wants to allocate additional sites to accommodate the potential need for those unknown households that were unable to be interviewed when a needs survey was carried out by consultants.
The potential need arising from unknown households could be a maximum of 24 pitches if all demonstrate they meet the planning definition.
However, according to a report on Local Plan Part 2 considered this week by Waverley’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee, some further pitches have been granted planning permission since the base date, (mainly in Dunsfold) so had already contributed to meeting that need. However, these have formed households where was unknown if they meet the planning definition of a ‘gypsy and traveller.’
The WW does wonder why therefore was permission granted?
Taking this into account, the report says there is a need for 39 pitches over the Plan Period up to 2032.
Now with the new draft Local Plan Part 2 under consideration – the council has included a policy for meeting the needs of this specific group by providing a new range of homes and accommodation.
- The council took the view when identifying suitable sites, that in the main, they should be contained within existing authorised sites.
- Suitable extensions to available existing sites
- Use available land within settlements and other brownfield and outside settlements
- Or other land.
The Government’s aim is for sustainable and mixed communities, and Waverley wants to deliver enough decent homes in suitable locations for everyone in the community.
The report says: Gypsies and Travellers have historically been part of the local community and continue to be so; they are important groups with specific accommodation needs. The Government’s aim is to ensure fair and equal treatment of Gypsies and Travellers, in a way that facilitates their traditional and nomadic way of life of while respecting the interests of the settled community.
The Council is required under the National Planning Framework (NPPF) and the Housing Act 2004 accommodate the needs of the population within their area. The Act also places a duty on local authorities to assess both current and future travellers’ needs. They must set pitch targets for gypsies and travellers and plot targets for travelling show people in order to address the likely permanent and transit-site accommodation needs of this group in their area.
The Council must also identify a five-year supply of sites against their locally set targets, much the same way as is required with another housing land.
In 2015 the Government updated its Planning Policy for Traveller Sites to include a new definition of Gypsy and Travellers. The key change to the definition was the removal of the term “persons….who have ceased to travel permanently”
For planning policy, ‘pitch’ means a pitch on a ‘gypsy and traveller’ site and ‘plot’ means a pitch on a ‘travelling show people’ site (often called a ‘yard’). The full definition is in the National Planning Policy for Traveller Sites.
This means that those who have stopped travelling no longer fall under the planning definition of a Traveller in terms of assessing the needs for accommodation.
Waverley’s The latest version of the Waverley Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (TAA) was published in June 2017 and factually updated in 2018. It was undertaken by consultants who sought to identify all sites and encampments in Waverley and attempted to complete interviews during the non-travelling season with residents on all occupied pitches and plots.
They also gave the opportunity to traveller households in ‘bricks and mortar’ accommodation to engage in the process and engaged with seven nearby Local Authorities to understand the wider issues in the area. The assessment is based on the Government’s guidance in Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (2015) and the new definition of a Traveller.
The TAA concluded that, at the base date in 2017, there was a need for 27 additional pitches for households that meet the planning definition and up to 24 additional pitches from unknown households14 that were unable to be interviewed. Ten households did not meet the planning definition.
Based on the survey, the proportion of households in Waverley that meet the planning definition (26 households – 62%) versus those that do not (16 households – 38%), is higher than the national average (10% in 2017) according to statistics by Opinion Research Services (ORS). The need arising from households that meet the planning definition translates into a minimum accommodation target that will be addressed through the site allocations process contained within Local Plan Part 2.
For contingency and resilience, it is proposed that two-thirds (66%) of the potential need from unknown households are built into the accommodation target. This higher number is in line with the local proportion of households in Waverley that met the planning definition in the TAA and gives flexibility and support to the delivery of the Plan to maintain a five-year supply of sites.
The TAA did not identify any need for the provision of a transit site due to the small numbers of unauthorised encampments in Waverley at the time of the fieldwork.
Since 1 April 2017, a number of planning permissions have been granted and contribute to meeting the need identified in the TAA. As a result, the residual need to be met through allocations in Local Plan Part 2, is for 17 further pitches.
Each pitch should measure at least 500 square metres (unless extended families are sharing facilities, in which case their needs will be assessed individually) and provide, as a minimum, a utility building, an amenity area, and appropriate hard standing for a trailer, touring caravan and another vehicle. Pitches should be laid out to ensure the security and safety of residents and allow ease of movement, whether walking, cycling or driving.
The figure of 500m2 has been used to ensure that final pitch design can accommodate all of the matters set out in design guidance, also including landscaping, play space and access arrangements. Final pitch sizes will ultimately be a matter for detailed planning applications to determine.