Gypsy and Traveller Plan: Pitch Numbers and Site Assessment

On April 11th Central Beds Council Sustainable Communities Committee considered a report that sets out the target for pitches to 2031 for Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople in Central Bedfordshire and proposes a methodology for assessing sites for allocation to accommodate these pitches.

The Committee received a report from the Executive Member for Sustainable Communities, Strategic Planning and Economic Development that outlined the target number of pitches to 2031 for Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople in Central Bedfordshire. The report also proposed a methodology for assessing sites for allocation to accommodate these pitches.

In addition to the report the Principal Planning Officer explained the pitch requirements and clarified that the 3% and 1.5% compound growth rates had previously been identified in the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment and the East of England Plan respectively. The compound growth rates had been applied to the total number of current sites in Bedfordshire as at 2011 to provide the number of pitches required as a result of growth.

In response to the report a Councillor queried why the Council was seeking to identify pitch requirements to 2031 when guidance suggested Councils should identify 5, 10 or 15 years supply. Officers responded that guidance had been issued following the publication of the report. However, the Gypsy and Traveller pitch requirement had been aligned to the Council’s Development Strategy, which set out planned development up to 2031.

In response to queries from another Councillor it was commented that positive work had been undertaken at the Gypsy and Traveller site at Greenacres, where with the assistance of a liaison Gypsies and Travellers had been integrated with the community. The Council encouraged integration with the local community on sites throughout the area. Improvements had also been made in relation to issues such as drainage and landscaping that had been a problem on sites in the past. The Committee was also informed that sites identified in the former Gypsy and Traveller Plan for the North of Central Bedfordshire would be ‘banked’ for future site allocations. Consideration to the proximity of proposed Gypsy and Traveller sites and the settled community would be given as applications were submitted.

MMAG suggests that we need to monitor this development because it means that all the sites which were previously rejected are now back on the table for consideration!

The link to the Report is;

http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/modgov/documents/s35329/Item%2009%20-%20Gypsy%20and%20Traveller%20plan%20pitch%20numbers%20and%20site%20assessment%20methodology.pdf

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