Have your say on sites for Travellers and Travelling Show People in South Worcestershire
The South Worcestershire Councils are inviting comments on the provision of sites for Travellers and Travelling Showpeople.
Worcester City, Malvern Hills District and Wychavon District Councils have prepared a Development Plan Document which includes information on the accommodation needs of Travellers and Travelling Showpeople across South Worcestershire.
The document includes policies which seek to ensure that future Traveller sites are appropriately located and designed.
The document proposes additional Traveller pitches on two existing Traveller sites at Newlands, Malvern and Charlton, Pershore and two existing sites at Aldington and Evesham are also allocated in case the latest planning permissions lapse.
To help meet the medium to longer term needs of Travellers or Travelling Showpeople, new sites are also proposed on the new and expanded settlements at Worcestershire Parkway, Throckmorton and Rushwick, together with a site on each of the urban extensions at Worcester South and Worcester West.
The six-week public consultation runs from 1 November until Tuesday 13 December 2022 at 11.59pm. The public and other interested parties are being asked to comment on whether they believe the Development Plan Document is sound and legally compliant.
For the Development Plan Document to be considered sound it must show that it will meet the identified need for Traveller sites, is based on robust evidence, is deliverable and is consistent with national planning policies. To be legally compliant, the document must have followed all necessary legal and procedural requirements.
The Development Plan Document has been informed by earlier public consultations held in 2016, 2018 and 2021. This is the last public consultation on the document before it is submitted to the Government’s Planning Inspectorate for independent Examination in 2023.
Cllr David Harrison, Chairman of the South Worcestershire Development Plan Joint Advisory Panel, said: “Providing sufficient appropriately located and designed sites for Travellers and Travelling Showpeople is vitally important, so I would urge people to make their voices heard on this essential issue.”
While all comments submitted during the consultation will be forwarded to the Planning Inspectorate for consideration during the next stage of the document, the Government’s Planning Inspector is only likely to consider comments that relate to the soundness and legal compliance of the document.
People can comment by visiting https://www.swdevelopmentplan.org/consultations/south-worcestershire-traveller-and-travelling-showpeople-policy from Tuesday 1 November and downloading and filling in the comment form, by email or by post. Paper copies will also be available from Customer Contact Centres, local libraries and some parish and town council offices.
The Traveller and Travelling Showpeople Policy and Site Allocations DPD is part of the South Worcestershire Development Plan Review (SWDPR) process. The SWDPR, jointly prepared by the three South Worcestershire Councils – Malvern Hills, Worcester City and Wychavon – covers the period to 2041. The SWDPR addresses overall housing and employment requirements and includes detailed policies to determine planning applications.
The three South Worcestershire Councils have a responsibility to plan for the housing needs of all residents, including the Traveller and Travelling Showpeople community under the Housing and Planning Act 2016.
The Government’s national Planning Policy for Traveller Sites requires the South Worcestershire Councils to identify a supply of deliverable Traveller sites to provide 5 years’ worth of sites against locally set targets, and sufficient developable sites for up to 15 years.
The South Worcestershire Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA, 2019) identified a need for 104 Traveller pitches in the period to 2041. Between March 2019 and August 2022, 49 Traveller pitches were granted planning permission across South Worcestershire, leaving an outstanding requirement for 55 pitches in the period to 2041. Additionally, the GTAA identified a need for 10 Travelling Showpeople plots in the period to 2041. 2 Showpeople plots have been granted planning consent since March 2019.
The Traveller and Travelling Showpeople Policy and Site Allocations DPD makes provision for up to 56 Traveller pitches (4 at Newlands, 2 at Charlton, 20 at Worcestershire Parkway, 10 at Throckmorton, up to 10 at Worcester South and up to 10 at Worcester West) and 10 Travelling Showpeople plots at Rushwick.
As part of the development of the Development Plan Document, the South Worcestershire Councils undertook three “calls for sites” – in 2015, 2016 and 2020 – to provide an opportunity for individuals and organisations to suggest sites that they considered might be suitable for allocation as a Traveller or Travelling Showpeople site. 46 sites were submitted for consideration, but not all were considered suitable.
In addition to proposing specific site allocations to meet the identified needs of Travellers and Travelling Showpeople, the Development Plan Document also includes draft policies to ensure that development proposals for Traveller and Travelling Showpeople sites are appropriately located and designed.
After the public consultation all responses will be reviewed and submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. An independent Inspector will then be appointed to carry out the Examination stage of the process. This involves scrutinising the Development Plan Document to make sure that it is sound and legal. A series of public hearings may also be held where people will have the chance to make representations.
After the Examination stage is complete, the Planning Inspector may decide to ask for changes to be made to the Development Plan Document. Once this is completed the Development Plan Document can be formally adopted by each of the South Worcestershire Councils. This is expected to take place in late 2023.
Full details of the Plan are available at https://www.swdevelopmentplan.org/consultations/south-worcestershire-traveller-and-travelling-showpeople-policy
For the purposes of planning policy ‘Travellers’ means 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, but excluding members of an organised group of Travelling Showpeople or circus people travelling together as such.
For the purposes of planning policy, ‘Travelling Showpeople’ means 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 dependents’ more localised pattern of trading, educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily, but excludes Travellers as defined above.
For the purposes of planning policy, ‘pitch’ means a pitch on a ‘gypsy and Traveller’ site and ‘plot’ means a pitch on a ‘Travelling Showpeople’ site (often called a ‘yard’). This terminology differentiates between residential pitches for ‘gypsies and travellers’ and mixed-use plots for ‘Travelling Showpeople’, which may need to incorporate space to allow for the storage of equipment.