Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople

9.46 The accommodation needs of gypsies and travellers should be considered along with the housing needs of the whole community. Government guidance makes it clear that local authorities should consider the needs of the travelling community through the local plan process[1]. A countywide assessment of the need for Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople accommodation has been undertaken[2]. This identifies that in South Somerset there is a need for 18 residential pitches between 2010 and 2020, 10 between 2010 and 2015 and 8 between 2015 and 2020. As well as the need for residential pitches there is also a need to provide transit capacity for 10 caravans within South Somerset by 2015 and for 4 additional Showmen's yards across Somerset[3]. The Somerset Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment will need to be updated in order to establish need post 2020.

9.47 Advice on the design and layout of Gypsy and Traveller sites can be found in Designing Gypsy and Traveller Sites Good Practice Guide[4]. The guidance explains that although there is not one ideal site size, past experience of residents and managers suggest that a maximum of 15 pitches provides a comfortable environment within which to live and is easy to manage. Smaller sites of 3 and 4 pitches can also work well, particularly when designed to accommodate an extended family.

9.48 Experience in South Somerset suggests that applicants favour small family owned sites. The Council will be seeking to establish such small pitch sites on any publicly provided sites within the District. There may be instances where it is appropriate to have a mixed residential and employment use, this is particularly the case for Showmen's yards.

9.49 Planning policy for traveller sites[5] defines 'gypsies and travellers' and 'travelling showpeople' these definitions or any successor definitions will be applied for planning purposes.

Policy HG7: Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople

The accommodation needs of Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople will be met by ensuring that they are accommodated in sustainable locations where essential services are available. The following criteria will guide the location of sites:

  • Significantly contaminated land should be avoided;
  • Development should not result in an adverse impact on internationally and nationally recognised designations (for example: Natura 2000 sites, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty);
  • The development should not have a significant adverse impact on the landscape character and visual amenity of the area;
  • The site is reasonably well related to schools and other community facilities;
  • The health and safety of occupants and visitors will not be at risk through unsafe access to sites, noise pollution or unacceptable flood risk;
  • There should be adequate space for on site parking, servicing and turning of vehicles;
  • The option of mixed residential and business use on sites will be considered where appropriate.
The number of pitches provided should be appropriate to the size of the site and availability of infrastructure, services and facilities in accordance with the general principles set out in the settlement hierarchy.

9.50 Much of the need for residential pitches in South Somerset to 2015 has already been met through private planning applications. In order to address outstanding need and to provide a policy context for a site allocation Development Plan Document (DPD) a development management policy will be required to address site identification and assessment should planning applications not come forward to meet established need.

9.51 The criteria set out in this policy will guide the allocation of sites in any future DPD and any planning applications that may come forward either before the DPD is prepared or in addition to sites allocated. Whilst it is recognised that Travelling Showpeople sites require more storage and maintenance space for their equipment, the same criteria will need to be met by all groups regarding accommodation provision.

9.52 The following delivery bodies will be key in implementing Policy HG7:

  • South Somerset District Council;
  • Traveller Communities.
Monitoring Indicators Target
Net additional Gypsy and Traveller pitches to meet identified need  
To deliver:
  • 18 residential Gypsy and Traveller pitches by 2020, 10 between 2010 and 2015 and 8 between 2015 and 2020;
  • Capacity for 10 transit caravans by 2015.
1. Planning policy for traveller sites, CLG, March 2012 [back]
2. Somerset Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment, Final Edit January 2011 (GTAA) [back]
3. At the time of writing South Somerset has 2 showmen's yards. This figure is based on 1 interview therefore the GTAA recommends that further consultation takes place between Local Planning Authorities and the Showmen's Guild. [back]
4. Designing Gypsy and Traveller Sites, Good Practice Guide, CLG, May 2008 [back]
5. CLG, March 2012 [back]