Communities Minister Andrew Stunell today (7 January 2012) announced the successful bids for £60 million of funding that will provide hundreds of new authorised pitches as well as better facilities for travellers on official sites.
The Homes and Communities Agency have completed their assessment of bids and have recommended offers from successful councils and other organisations that will deliver over 750 new and improved pitches at a cost of £47m.
New bids for the remaining £13 million of the £60 million budget will continue to be considered and the Agency will help those who had their bids rejected to improve and resubmit their offers so that further pitches can be delivered over the next three years.
This new support for official traveller pitches goes hand in hand with action against unauthorised traveller sites. Through the Localism Act, the Government is introducing stronger powers for councils to tackle the abuse of retrospective planning permission. These strengthened powers are helping councils tackle any form of unauthorised development.
The new authorised travellers’ sites will provide help to reduce the number of unauthorised sites, which create tensions between travellers and the settled community.
Ministers believe the previous system was ineffective because traveller site funding was allocated but often remained unspent. They also argue that by imposing top-down targets for traveller sites, local councils were compelled to encroach onto the Green Belt, leading to an increase in the number of unauthorised sites and seriously harming community relations.
Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said:
“This funding will help provide sites in a way that reflects local need in consultation with the local community.
“It will assist hundreds of traveller families find sites where they want to live and foster better relations with the existing communities and councils.
“We are ending the failed system where Whitehall attempted to dictate where sites went. Instead we have brought back fairness by ensuring that both travellers and the settled population are treated equally.
“New authorised sites, with the support of local communities, will be treated on an equal footing as new bricks and mortar homes, with councils getting powerful financial benefits for building authorised sites where they are needed.”
Today’s announcement is the latest step to introduce a more local and fair way of providing sites for travellers. Other measures include:
- strengthening measures to tackle any abuse of the planning system
- stronger enforcement powers for councils
- providing powerful cash incentives for councils to build authorised sites through the New Homes Bonus and
- training for councillors about their leadership role in relation to traveller site provision and planning applications for sites.
Notes to Editors
1. A total of 33 providers, of which 18 are local authorities and 15 housing associations, will receive allocations 617 new and 167 improved pitches at a total cost of £47m. For more information, a CSV file of the successful bids is available at:
www.homesandcommunities.co.uk/sites/default/files/our-work/tpf_allocations_january2012.csv (CSV, 5.5 kb).
2. The programme delivers 10 pitches in London (one per cent of the total) for £700,000. The proportion going to London has been agreed by the GLA.
3. The Government, as part of their broader package of reforms to the planning system and desire to see everyone treated equally and even-handedly in respect of it, went out to consultation on a draft, short and light-touch, new policy on ‘planning for traveller sites’ last year. Responses to the consultation are currently being considered and the new policy will be published as soon as possible. The Secretary of State’s original announcement can be seen at: www.communities.gov.uk/news/newsroom/1886974.
4. The overarching objective of the new travellers policy is to ensure fair and equal treatment for travellers in a way that facilitates their traditional and nomadic way of life while respecting the interests of the settled community. The new policy puts planning for traveller sites back in the hands of local planning authorities, aligns planning policy for traveller sites more closely with that of policy on planning housing and provides greater protection to Green Belt.
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