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01/09/2010

Carrots and sticks – travellers’ sites

News from Mr Pickles and the DCLG

Item 1. The Government is to bring s.318 Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 into force, finally according travellers on authorised sites the same security as those who come under the Mobile Homes Act. Hurrah.

Item 2. Planning circulars regarding construction of authorised travellers sites are being scrapped. Apparently because Councils complained about being forced to build on countryside and undertake compulsory purchase. Actual examples of either are welcome if anyone has come across them – we’d be interested.

Item 3. The regional strategies have already gone.

Item 4. ‘Plans for further powers for councils to combat unauthorised development’. Awaited…

Item 5. ‘New Homes Bonus Scheme’ to be extended to travellers’ sites, so councils get financial benefits for building authorised sites ‘where they are needed’. But what happened to the frozen Gypsy and Traveller site grant budget (or what was left of it)? That form of direct payment to Councils to develop sites has vanished.

Localism – it’s been tried before and didn’t work in this context. I’m not holding my breath for the sudden appearance of much needed authorised sites.

Meanwhile, Birmingham is worried about the Pope and trespassing Travellers. Don’t go near Birmingham without a ‘Pilgrim Pass’ on 19 September, apparently.

There is an argument, although not one vocally espoused by NL, that visiting Birmingham on that or indeed any other date would be penance enough to both qualify one as a pilgrim and to have 5 or 6 venial sins and possibly a mortal one wiped off the slate. But right now all I really want to do is pop Richard Dawkins into a two bed towable and head up the M6…

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

2 Comments

  1. CJ

    I concur with all that NL states here – apart from I will stay silent on the B’ham bit since (a) I work in B’ham and (b) I come from an Irish Roman Catholic family(and have lots of Irish Traveller clients).
    Localism was tried by a previous Tory Government when they repealed the duty on local authorities to provide sites in 1994 and produced a circular (DoE 01/94) designed to encourage private site provision. Everyone (and I will include Mr Pickles in everyone unless he is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot) knows that that failed. The Labour government (after much delay) replaced that, in 2006, with, amongst other things, Regional Spatial Strategies and there began a slow increase ( after all those years of stagnation) in site/pitch provision. If Mr Pickles really understands this history, then what is his real agenda? All suggestions welcome

    Reply
  2. CJ

    Pleased to report that the judgment in R(Cala Homes) v SSCLG was handed down today and Mr Pickles’ revocation of Regional Strategies has been found to be unlawful. Cala Homes were successful on both grounds of challenge ( basically that the Local Democracy Act did not allow for the wholesale revocation of all RSs and that a strategic environmental assessment should have been carried out)

    Reply

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