Policies published on Gypsy and Traveller accommodation in the East of England
Posted on July 20, 2009
An important milestone towards the region providing adequate accommodation for Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople in the East of England was reached today.
Policies published as part of the Regional Spatial Strategy set out how many pitches and plots are needed in each district in the East of England to provide enough authorised pitches until 2021.
The figures have been agreed after extensive consultation and discussion with Local Authorities, planning bodies and community representatives, and will be written into local developments plans. By providing the right amount of authorised pitches in appropriate locations the policy will reduce the number of unauthorised sites without proper planning permission. This will also help to reduce enforcement costs to the taxpayer - estimated at around £18 million a year - and improve community relations between the settled and non-settled communities across the region.
Barbara Follett, Minister for the East of England, said:
“Today's publication of the review of the Regional Spatial Strategy is a positive step towards addressing the serious disadvantages experienced by members of the travelling communities who have a life expectancy 10-12 years below the regional average, and huge challenges accessing education and health services.
“It is vital that we address the housing needs of everyone in our communities, including Gypsies and Travellers. By ensuring sufficient provision of well-managed, authorised sites, we can help stop the negative and costly cycle of evictions from unauthorised sites that is costly to the taxpayer and impacts on the quality of life for the travelling community and can be so disruptive to all of our communities.”
Communities Secretary John Denham said:
“The Government has put funding in place for local authorities to provide new authorised sites and an effective enforcement framework that gives them the tools to tackle unauthorised developments. All local authorities must make rapid progress on making full use of these powers whenever they are needed.
“Effective management of what is often a controversial issue must mean providing the right number of pitches for Gypsies and Travellers in the appropriate locations, but also ensuring the genuine concerns of the settled community are understood and addressed. Making progress and balancing everyone's needs requires proper leadership and action.”
Today's announcement builds on the draft policy submitted by the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in February 2008. This draft policy was then consulted on and tested at an Examination in Public in October 2008. Proposed changes to the policy were published for public consultation in March 2009.
The final policies provide a framework for local planning authorities, who can then take local decisions about the location and distribution of the pitches. The policy has been developed to ensure a more equitable distribution of the additional requirements across Local Authority areas.
Details of the breakdown of provision by district is included in the policy, which is available on the Regional Planning pages of the GoEast website.
Source: Government Office for the East of England
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