National Organisation of Residents Associations


NORA Response to Planning and Travellers





Question 1: Do you agree that the planning definition of travellers should be amended to remove the words or permanently to limit it to those who have a nomadic habit of life? If not, why not?

Removing these words would emphasise that genuine Travellers merit appropriate concern covered by the relevant current legislation. Once a permanent way of life is sought, presumably such specific legislation would no longer apply.

Question 2: Are there any additional measures which would support those travellers who maintain a nomadic habit of life to have their needs met? If so, what are they?


Question 3: Do you consider that:

a) we should amend the 2006 regulations to bring the definition of 'gypsies and travellers' into line with the proposed definition of 'travellers' for planning purposes?

This proposal is fair to both Travellers and residents.

b) we should also amend primary legislation to ensure that those who have given up travelling permanently have their needs assessed? If not, why not?

This too is appropriate.


Question 4: Do you agree that Planning Policy for Traveller Sites be amended to reflect the provisions in the National Planning Policy Framework that provide protection to these sensitive sites (set out in para. 3.1 of the consultation document)? If not, why not?

We all have concern about protected land, and this should include not only Green Belt but all the other protected sites. This should also apply to Conservation Areas where open land may be subject to unauthorised occupation.

Question 5: Do you agree that paragraph 23 of Planning Policy for Traveller Sites should be amended to 'local authorities should very strictly limit new traveller sites in the open countryside'? If not, why not?

Unless the relevant Local Plan includes an area of open countryside in its proposals for dwellings, local authorities should be empowered to refuse all applications for use for dwellings whether for permanent residential use of for use by Travellers.

Question 6: Do you agree that the absence of an' up-to-date five year supply of deliverable sites should be removed from Planning Policy for Traveller Sites as a significant material consideration in the grant of temporary permission for traveller sites in the areas mentioned above (set out in para. 3.7 of the consultation document)? If not, why not?

This proposal closes a loophole in the legislation that currently allows the Planning Inspectorate to over-turn Local Planning Authority refusals for the undesirable use of open land. In this context we consider it appropriate to treat Travellers differently to all other developers.

Question 7: Do you agree with the policy proposal that, subject to the best interests of the child, unmet need and personal circumstances are unlikely to outweigh harm to the Green Belt and any other harm so as to establish very special circumstances? If not, why not?

We have a concern that the 'best interests of the child' will provide a loophole to defeat the prime object of the proposals to remedy the undesirable use of protected land. In our view the 'best interests of the child' today are not served by living the life of a traveller. There should be more emphasis on the need for an 'off-site' style of life for children if they are to benefit from the modern services provided by the community.


Question 8: Do you agree that intentional unauthorised occupation should be regarded by decision takers as a material consideration that weighs against the grant of permission? If not, why not?

The use of retrospective planning applications has always caused offence to law-abiding citizens, so this rider is widely accepted as an appropriate dis-incentive.

Question 9: Do you agree that unauthorised occupation causes harm to the planning system and community relations? If not, why not?

The unauthorised occupation of land, which is not remedied by appropriate action by the police and local authorities, cocks a snook at the planning system, discredits it and angers the adjacent community who abide by the relevant legislation. The lack of action by the authorities is often due to the fear of being accused of racial discrimination. As a result areas, where no action is taken, then attract other travellers, so that a serious and possibly unmanageable problem arises.

Question 10: Do you have evidence of the impact of harm caused by intentional unauthorised occupation? (And if so, could you submit them with your response.)

NORA members - Billericay (Dale Farm), Brighton, Poole and others - have experience of unauthorised occupation by Travellers, leading to high costs for the local authority and police, which inevitably affects local taxation. More seriously is the social conflict that arises from the associated inappropriate commercial activity occurring on the sites, the excessive traffic that ensues and the inevitable degradation of the site by traffic, waste, refuse, etc. When it occurs adjacent to residential communities, the friction can lead to violence.

Question 11: Would amending Planning Policy for Traveller Sites in line with the proposal set out in paragraph 4.16 of the consultation document help that small number of local authorities in these exceptional circumstances (set out in paragraphs 4.11-4.14 of the consultation document)? If not, why not? What other measures can Government take to help local authorities in this situation?

NORA sees this as a logical sequel to an excessive accumulation of Travellers out of all proportion to the accepted level in an area. Such local authorities cannot be expected to carry the inordinate burden.

Question 12: Are there any other points that you wish to make in response to this consultation, in particular to inform the Government's consideration of the potential impacts that the proposals in this paper may have on either the traveller community or the settled community?

These proposals serve the resident communities' interests and should restore the public's confidence in planning and enforcement legislation. It obliges the Travelling community to observe the same laws that are respected by the resident community.


Question 13: Do you have any comments on the draft planning guidance for travellers (see Annex A of the consultation document)?


November 2014                                                Alan B Shrank - NORA chairman