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Travellers and Planning

The following letter was send to Michael Fallon, M.P. and was forwarded to the Well Hill Residents' Associtaion.

15 April 2011

Dear Colleague,


Before the general election, Conservatives pledged to reform the planning regime for traveller sites and ensure fair play. The Labour Government introduced a series of planning changes which undermined local discretion and turned a blind eye to unauthorised development. In doing so, they damaged the integrity of the planning system and worsened community cohesion, harming the interests of the majority of travellers who play by the rules.

This week, my department published new proposed planning rules for travellers, in the form of draft new planning guidance. Although this is dra_ it has the status of 'emerging policy' and can be taken into account now as a material consideration in planning applications. It will revoke John Prescott's notorious Planning Circular 01/2006.

  • In conjunction with measures in the Localism Bill, the new planning regime abolishes top-down regional targets. Councils should plan for traveller site provision in a locally led way, reflecting historic demand. Methodology will be a matter for local discretion.
  • The new planning guidance strengthens protection of the Green Belt and open countryside. Labour's guidance on pressuring councils to compulsory purchase land for traveller sites has been deleted. Stronger consideration and weight is now given to the protection of local amenity and the local environment.
  • The planning guidance will help councils in planning enforcement cases. In addition, the Localism Bill also contains provisions to tackle the abuse of retrospective planning permission. In due course, we will also amend secondary legislation to strengthen councils' powers to issue stop notices.
  • We are also taking measures to support councils in providing suitable, authorised sites. We have secured £60 million of grant funding for traveller sites over the Spending Review period, and the New Homes Bonus will provide a further incentive for site provision.

It is important to remember that it is only a small minority who abuse the system. In this context, we should accordingly remember the need for a sense of proportion and careful use of language when talking about this issue. I believe our reforms will strengthen community cohesion by ensuring a sense of fairness in the planning system.

This week's document is a consultation paper - and I would welcome feedback on its contents from local authorities, elected representatives and the broader public. The documents can be found at: www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1886556

I hope this is useful for your local casework, and the consultation paper provides you with an opportunity to engage with your local community groups.

Yours ever,

Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government


Last Updated: 21 April, 2011
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