New law to limit who can use traveller sites

PUBLISHED: 11:02 09 September 2015

Travellers were camped on the privately owned Millenium Green in Ottery St Mary for several days last month, before being evicted. Picture: Terry Ife

Travellers were camped on the privately owned Millenium Green in Ottery St Mary for several days last month, before being evicted. Picture: Terry Ife

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New rules cracking down on who will be able to use 37 new traveller sites planned for East Devon came into force this week.

Travellers left rubbish strewn around Millennium Green which was cleared by trustees and collected by EDDCTravellers left rubbish strewn around Millennium Green which was cleared by trustees and collected by EDDC

The measures are intended to ensure that only those with a ‘genuine travelling lifestyle’ will be able to use the new pitches.

This comes as East Devon District Council (EDDC) continues to consult on a development plan document for gypsy and traveller accommodation.

EDDC has been told by Whitehall to earmark sites and the authority has to find 22 pitches and up to five ‘emergency’ stopping places within five years.

The final total of 37 sites is expected to be developed within 20 years.

The authority has already earmarked £500,000 for the scheme. The new law is part of a wider crackdown on unauthorised occupation of sites, to ensure all communities are required to abide by the same planning rules.

The Department for Communities and Local Government says that, between 2000 and 2009, there was a four-fold increase in the numbers of caravans on unauthorised sites – creating tensions between travellers and the residents.

The new policy means any application for a permanent site, including caravan sites, by someone who does not travel will be considered in the same way as an application from the settled population – rather than being considered under policies relating to travellers.

The changes also give further protection to areas like the East Devon AONB.

Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Unauthorised traveller sites can blight communities, causing misery and creating resentment that planning rules don’t seem to be applied fairly.

“[This] revised planning policy clearly sets out the protection against unauthorised occupation and that the rules apply fairly to every community equally.”


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