Agenda item

Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment


Gypsy and Traveller and Travelling Showperson Accommodation Assessment


The Planner introduced the report which highlighted the key findings from the new Gypsy and Traveller and Travelling Showperson Accommodation Assessment (GTAA), outlined the options, and sought agreement on how to meet the identified need.


The Planner explained that the Council was required to prepare and maintain, an up-to-date understanding of the likely accommodation needs of the travelling community over the lifespan of the development plan.  As such, and to fall in-line with the emerging Local Plan period to 2037/38, consultants arc4 had been appointed in September 2017, to complete a new Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment for the Council.


The Planner reported that the study had identified a need for 30 pitches for the first five years to 2022, with a longer-term need amounting to a further 29 pitches from 2022 to 2038, for a total need of 59 pitches.  However when taking into account natural turnover, the total need reduced to 51 pitches.  The study identified potential for the intensification and expansion of existing sites to provide a supply of 54 pitches.  The Planner drew attention to the recommendations in the report.


The Planner also drew attention to the issues faced at The Brotherhood Woodyard site.  He explained that whilst the household surveys were being carried out, the consultants had not been able to obtain any information on, or interviews with, any gypsies or travellers at that site, therefore, the figures they had for the site had not been included in any met need or supply calculations in this GTAA.  The Planner stated that officers in Development Management had been carrying out visits to the site and remained of the view that the site would be able to function as an authorised site.  The Planner considered it right to argue that the Council should not rely on Brotherhood Woodyard to contribute to its supply, and officers were not proposing to do so.


The Vice-Chairman in-the-Chair proposed the recommendations in the report, which were seconded by Councillor James Hunt.


Members considered the GTAA and made the following comments:


·        A well written extensive report.

·        The Council needed to be clear that it did not support any imbalance towards settled communities.

·        Important to ensure that Policy DM10 referred to the necessary infrastructure being provided so that the Council did not lose applications for sites in inappropriate areas at the appeal stage.

·        Needed to be careful that Brotherhood Woodyard was not used as evidence of availability, as it would not accord with human rights guidelines.

·        Considered one large public site would be the wrong approach.

·        Important to consider the Irish Traveller community which was growing in Swale.

·        Major concerns about the numbers of traveller sites appearing across Swale. 

·        In Newnham the settled community were now in the minority.

·        Currently traveller sites dominated the Syndale Valley area of Swale.

·        Considered that Swale was the “destination of choice” for the travelling community, due to weaknesses in the Council’s policy.

·        There was previously a committee at Swale which spent a lot of time and public money looking for public sites to no avail.

·        Frustrated at the inequalities in terms of planning applications, which it seemed, favoured the travelling community over the settled community.

·        How would the call for sites be carried out, and the travelling community engaged?

·        Agreed needed to continue with criteria based policy.

·        Considered that use of a public site should be explored.

·        The PPTS 2015 definition for travellers was confusing.


The Principal Planning Officer advised that with regard to the call for sites, there were national and local organisations who would be able to assist officers on how to engage with the travelling community.  With regard to a public site, she considered it important to explore the possibility of this so that at the plan making stage, officers could make a more informed decision about whether it was possible. 


Members discussed the potential size of the public site, and the Head of Planning Services stated that best practice could include small sites.  Members agreed that recommendation (3) of the report, be amended to read “Explore the possibility of creating new public sites”.




(1)       That the findings of the Gypsy and Traveller and Travelling Showperson Accommodation Assessment be noted.

(2)       That a ‘call for sites’ be carried out.

(3)       That a criterion-based policy be progressed.

(4)       That the possibility of creating new public sites be explored.


Supporting documents: