Potential sites for gypsies and travellers - Now Withdrawn (Hidden)

The council has a responsibility to plan for the housing needs of everyone, including Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople. In 2012, the council carried out a consultation on potential sites for Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople.

The consultation sought to identify potential new sites for Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople pitches to meet the needs for the next 15 years and feedback obtained from the consultation was fed into the preparation of the Making and Growing Places document which was consulted on in the summer of 2013. A schedule highlighting the original responses received to the consultation can be seen in the cabinet report and comments relating to the most recent consultation will soon be considered by Councillors at Place Scrutiny Committee.

For further information and enquiries:

Email: planning.policy@darlington.gov.uk Telephone: 01325 4066724.


Who are Gypsies and Travellers?

Gypsies and Travellers are defined as "Persons of nomadic habit of life whatever their race or origin, including such persons who on grounds only of their own or their family’s or dependants’ educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently, but excluding members of an organised group of travelling showpeople or circus people travelling together as such” (Planning policy for travellers sites, DCLG, 2012)

Who are Travelling Showpeople?

Travelling Showpeople are defined as "Members of a group organised for the purposes of holding fairs, circuses or shows (whether or not travelling together as such). This includes such persons who on the grounds of their own or their family’s or dependants’ more localised pattern of trading, educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently, but excludes Gypsies and Travellers as defined above.” (Planning policy for travellers sites, DCLG, 2012)

Why are authorised Gypsies and Traveller caravan pitches needed?

A study carried out on behalf of all the Tees Valley local authorities found that there are not enough authorised pitches available to meet the current or projected future needs of the travelling communities in Darlington. Consequently, this could lead to unauthorised encampments and unauthorised development.

What is an unauthorised encampment?

This is land which is not owned by Gypsies and Travellers, but is used without the permission of the owner.

What is an unauthorised development?

Land that is owned, used and occupied by Gypsies and Travellers, but does not have planning permission from the Council for use as a residential or transit site.

What is a transit site, and how is it different to a permanent site?

Transit sites are authorised sites that are used for short stays. The sites are provided on a permanent basis by councils and have basic amenities and services. A maximum period of stay is imposed. In Darlington, Gypsies are Travellers are permitted to stay at transit sites for a maximum period of eight weeks during the summer.

Permanent sites or ‘residential sites’ are either provided by councils or are owned by Gypsies and Travellers themselves. The sites are used as long-term residences. The key difference between transit and permanent sites is in relation to the maximum period of stay. There is no maximum period of stay for Gypsies and Travellers living on permanent sites.

What is a Travelling Showpeople site?

Travelling Showpeople sites often need to combine residential, storage and maintenance uses. Typically a site comprises areas set aside for the Showpeople's accommodation – usually caravans and mobile homes – and areas where vehicles and fairground equipment can be stored, repaired and occasionally tested.

Why do councils have to identify places for Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople to stay?

The Housing Act 2004 requires all councils to assess the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople. The Government’s Planning policy for traveller sites document sets out the planning process by which councils should identify appropriate sites to meet these needs.

How many authorised sites are there in Darlington?

Currently there are 68 residential traveller pitches on 9 sites with permanent planning permission on the Council’s database of existing sites.

The Council provides two caravan sites for travellers that have been in use for over thirty years. Both sites are leased and managed by members of the Gypsy community. In addition there are three small private owner occupied sites.

Neasham Road caravan site was established in the 1970's with 20 pitches. Each pitch is provided with an individual amenity block and a hard standing for 2 caravans and vehicles.

Honeypot Lane caravan site was established in 1970's and refurbishment started in 2004 with the aid of government grants. There are 32 residential pitches. In addition, there are 24 transit pitches for travellers who can stay for up to 8 weeks.

How will the Council provide the extra pitches that are needed?

The Council is preparing a document that, amongst other things will identify sites for potential residential occupation by Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople. The Council will consult with those living near such potential sites, and get in touch with a range of organisations from the travelling and settled communities. The aim is to identify an accepted range and choice of sites required to meet identified needs, from the potential sites included in the consultation document.

How will the Making Places and Accommodating Growth Development Plan Document decide whether the site is suitable or not?

Suitable sites will need to comply with national and local planning policies, other regulations and meet the accommodation needs of the travelling communities. The Making Places and Accommodating Growth Development Plan Document will need to be consistent with the Darlington Local Development Framework Core Strategy, in particular Policy CS13: Accommodating Travelling Groups. This policy sets out the criteria against which future allocations and other planning applications will be assessed.

How will the Making Places and Accommodating Growth Development Plan Document benefit the local people and community?

The Making Places and Accommodating Growth Development Plan Document will help to reduce unauthorised encampments and unauthorised development.

Will local communities end up paying for this?

Some of the sites identified through the Making Places and Accommodating Growth Development Plan may be purchased or privately rented by Gypsies, Travellers or Travelling Showpeople in the same way as individual house buyers or rent payers. Therefore, there will be no cost to the local community. A number of funding options are also available in which local authorities and Housing Associations can bid for in the provision of Gypsy and Traveller pitches.

How can I get involved in the consultation?

There will be a range of opportunities to get involved. Members of the travelling and settled communities will be able to submit comments during this consultation. A series of drop in sessions will also be held in a range of public venues.

What happens when the consultation finishes?

Responses to the consultation will be considered alongside the Council’s existing information to identify the Council’s preferred portfolio of sites for potential residential use by Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople.

This preferred list of sites will be presented in a document called the Making Places and Accommodating Growth Development Plan Document: Preferred Options, which is due to be published in the autumn. Comments on the Preferred Options will be invited at that time, and any made will be considered by the Council before it finalises the document for independent public examination in 2013/14.

It is only after the report of this examination has been received and considered by the Council that the policies and proposals can be adopted by the Council and used in making decisions on planning applications.