Proposed Gypsy & Traveller Site
Following the meeting of Central Bedfordshire’s Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 28th February 2013, we are pleased to confirm that proposed Gypsy & Traveller Site 13 (Westoning Road/A5120) has been removed from the site assessment process and is therefore no longer being considered as a potential site.
Harlington Parish Council provided a comprehensive opposition to the site, but would also like to thank Ward Councillors Tom Nicholls and Norman Costin, and also Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council James Jamieson for their support.
The agenda for SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE on Thursday 28 February 2013 has now been published at which the Gypsy & Traveller Sites will be discussed.
For full details please click on this link: Agenda details on public web site.
In Appendix 3, please note details concerning Site 13, Westoning Road, Harlington can be found on page 101
In Appendix D, a summary of public comments received so far by CBC on 13 sites can be found.
Meeting venue: Council Chamber, Priory House, Monks Walk, Shefford
The following has been received by HPC with regards attendance at the meeting:
To all Town and Parish Councils,
On February 28th, Members of the Council's Overview and Scrutiny Committee for Sustainable Communities will be considering a report on the Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan and the findings of the Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (2013). The report sets out the results of the site assessment process and seeks a recommendation from Members to the Executive regarding the most suitable sites to meet requirements for the numbers of pitches in Central Bedfordshire up to 2031. This issue has provoked considerable public interest and we have received several queries regarding attendance at the meeting.
We are aware that there are likely to be a significant number of people who may wish to attend and we intend to take every measure possible to maintain safe and fair access to the process. Such measures include providing additional seating in the Council Chamber itself. We are also arranging for the meeting to be filmed and broadcast live to the canteen area of the Council offices. This will allow as many people as possible to attend, within the limits of our capacity for health and safety.
These arrangements will enable approximately 180 members of the public, including those registered to speak, to attend the meeting.
Should we experience a greater number of residents wishing to attend than this we will unfortunately not be able to accommodate them.
If you are in contact with local residents who have expressed an intention to attend, it would be very helpful if you could alert them to these arrangements, particularly with regard to restrictions on the maximum number of attendees. Residents may wish to car-share to alleviate pressures on the car park or ask that their councillor attend the meeting to represent their views on their behalf.
Further information has recently been made available via the Council's website (http://www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/planning/strategic-planning/gypsy-and-traveller-plan.aspx) regarding the Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan and the following issues:-
Increase in pitches from 130 to 158 - Under the heading: How many sites are planned for?
Removal of 3 sites from the list of 35 - Under the heading: Assessment stage 3
Summaries of representations - Under the heading: How can I have my say?
Scrutiny Policy Adviser
Corporate Services (People & Organisation)
Direct Dial: 0300 300 4634 | Internal: 74634 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following items are included in the agenda:
Apologies for Absence
Chairman's Announcements and Communications
Questions, Statements or Deputations
Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan
Central Bedfordshire Council PR 1380 01/02/2013 [For Immediate Release]
How to have your say on the Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan
Local residents and Town and Parish Councils are being asked to feed into Central Bedfordshire Councilâ€™s Gypsy and Traveller Plan, before a meeting of the Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee in February and subsequently, as part of a detailed formal consultation in the spring.
Cllr Nigel Young, Executive Member for Sustainable Communities (Strategic Planning and Economic Development) said: â€œWe know there has been a lot of public interest around the â€˜long listâ€™ of 35 possible site locations. We released that list because we appreciate the strength of feeling about the subject and wanted everyone to know what was happening at each stage.
â€œI think that the majority of people appreciate that we have to fulfil our statutory duty to provide appropriate accommodation for all members of our communities and what the problems could be if we donâ€™t.
â€œWhat most people want to know, quite understandably, is how they can input into the process, which is what weâ€™re keen for. There will be a full 6 week consultation in May - June time about the draft Local Plan which will include the â€˜short listâ€™ of selected sites. Until then, residents can pass on their views by emailing LDF@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk. Or if they prefer, contact their local elected member. All feedback will all be considered as part of the process.â€
Councillors have received a lot of feedback already about the number of pitches as well as their location.
Cllr Young explained: "We have received a lot of comments already about the number of pitches we need to provide as well as the possible locations. But there is a lot of confusion about the rate at which pitches could appear. We think it's wise to plan a long way ahead so weâ€™re considering a number of locations now that will satisfy demand for the next 20 years...130 pitches would not suddenly appear at once - a rough average could mean less than 7 pitches each year across the whole of Central Bedfordshire.
â€œEssentially, we want to ensure that we meet our legal obligation to provide appropriate accommodation for this community by scoping out land that could be available in the long term. But in reality, a small proportion of that would be used in the short term, leaving other land to come forward in future years."
â€œWeâ€™ve also updated our website in response to residents and weâ€™ll carry on adding new information there. Lots of people wanted more background and detail about the Plan as well as possible sites so on the dedicated page - www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/gypsytravellerplan - we have added documents and a full description of all stages of the process, as well as answers to the most frequently asked questions. As new questions come up we will add them to the website.â€
Notes for editors
In the mean time, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 28 February will be looking at the â€˜long listâ€™ of 35 proposed sites and hearing representations about them. The â€˜long listâ€™ has been scored against objective criteria to determine their suitability. Councillors will select a â€˜short listâ€™ from those 35. They will recommend to Executive Committee which sites are best able to provide sufficient pitches to meet the requirement up until 2031. Residents can send representations to be considered at this meeting by emailing LDF@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk or email@example.com before 25 February 2013.
Executive Committee will consider the recommendations of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and in turn make their recommendations to Full Council in April. Once the Council has made a firm proposal, there will be a 6 week formal consultation period. That is the time to give views on the whole 20 year plans. Only once all of those views have been considered, will the Council send its finalised list and all of the consultation results to the Secretary of State for an independent public examination and hearings. Anyone who has made a representation in the full consultation could be invited by the Inspector holding the public examination to speak at the hearings.
Some key facts and figures
* The population of Gypsy and Travellers is increasing by an estimated 3% pa
* Approximately 130 more pitches will be needed in Central Bedfordshire by 2031
* The Council could, for example, find 130 pitches with 13 sites of 10 pitches or 26 sites of 5 pitches
* 28,700 new homes are also being planned for Central Bedfordshire between 2011 and 2031
* A pitch is the space required to accommodate one household
* There will be approximately 5 to 10 pitches on each new site
* Many sites were originally assessed before the â€˜long listâ€™ of 35 sites was arrived at.
* 24 private and 102 council owned sites were considered at the first stage
* 6 private and 29 council owned sites (35 in total) passed this second assessment
* The scoring for each site at stage 1, 2 and 3 will be published on 14 Feb
All of the representations to SC OSC receive by 25 February will be summarised and circulated to elected Members in two ways:
* All original correspondence, whenever it is received, will be available to Members of the committee
* Questions, answers and representations received in time for the publication date will be included, in summary form, in the report published on 14 February
* Questions, answers and representations received after the report publication date will be provided in summary to Members of the Committee prior to the meeting
For further information please contact: Anna Copperwheat, Media Officer on 0300 300 4671
Following the Parish Meeting held on 30th January 2013 at Harlington Upper School, please:
Click here for the Chairman, Cllr Mrs Mary Walsh's, opening speech, and
Click here for the leaflet which was available on the night.
Proposed Gypsy and Traveller Site
Harlington Parish Council has discovered a proposal for a Gypsy and Traveller site in Harlington on the land East of the A5120 and North of Westoning Road
Harlington Parish Council understands it will not be consulted on the propsed site. It will be discussed at Central Bedfordshire's Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee on 17th January, with the sites being discussed in detail on 28th February. Members of the public can attend both meetings.
Harlington Parish Council will be discussing the site at a Full Council Meeting on Monday 14th January at 7.30pm in the West Room of the Parish Hall. All are welcome to attend. If you wish to contact Central Bedfordshire Council directly concerning this proposal, please do so via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please see below a map of the proposed site:
Please find below a copy of a Press Release sent on Monday 21st January by Councillor Ian Shingler of Barton-le-Clay to the Luton News, concerning the article about Harlington Parish Council's Full Council Meeting of 14th January and the proposed Gypsy & Traveller site, published in last week's edition of the paper.
From Ian Shingler, Central Bedfordshire Councillor for Barton-le-Clay
Re: front cover story ‘Fury over gipsy site schemes’
I feel that I have to leap to the defence of Harlington Parish Council having insufficient room for residents at a meeting on 14th January. They would have only heard about the gipsy sites a few daysbefore their meeting
The blame lies with the failure of Central Bedfordshire Council to notify councils and residents about the sites earlier. They only notified people most affected over Christmas, such as those liable to lose their livelihood because land they had farmed for generations was now being considered as sites for gypsies and travellers.
As a substitute councillor on the Central Beds committee I only found out on 4th January, while the Central Beds councillor for Potton, where there are ten potential sites, was not even notified at all, because Central Beds were restricting who was told. He had to ask for the information.
The idea seems to have been to minimise the number of people who attended Central Beds committee meeting on 17th January when the plan was being discussed.
In the event around 200 people attended, and speaker after speaker condemned the gypsy and traveller plan, including Harlington Parish Council and myself for Barton-le-Clay.
The tragedy for Harlington was not that residents couldn’t get into their parish council meeting, but that Harlington’s Central Beds Councillor at the committee meeting spoke in favour of gypsy sites.
The next meeting to discuss gypsy and traveller sites will be held at Central Bedfordshire Council’s offices in Chicksands on 28th February starting at 10a.m. where residents can make their feelings known to those councillors who will be deciding where to put the sites.
PROPOSED GYPSY & TRAVELLER SITE 13
As many of you are aware, there was the usual monthly Full Council meeting on Monday 14th January 2013 which included the above Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) proposal for members to consider.
Details of this proposal were received in the office on Monday 7th January 2013, immediately circulated to members and added to the Full Council agenda which was posted on the Harlington Parish Council (HPC) notice boards/website on Tuesday afternoon/Wednesday morning of 8th/9th January. Many office and councillor hours were then spent researching and liaising with CBC in order to establish how this site was chosen along with the CBC timetable in order to establish the parameters HPC and residents would be working to.
Being a council meeting and not a parish meeting the Chairman, knowing that she had to control the amount of time that could be given to “Public Participation” on this matter, suggested that a parish meeting be held enabling residents to have their say on the matter. The date of 18th February 2013 at the Village Hall was given at the time, but as doubts remain that this venue will still be unable to cope with the potential capacity and as this is half term week, the Council is currently looking to see ifHarlingtonUpperSchool would be available instead. As this could impact on the date, please keep checking HPC’s website and notice boards for an update as to exactly when this parish meeting will be held. HPC has to legally give 7 clear days notice of this meeting. The meeting will be held in collaboration with CASH - further details regarding this group can be found at: harlington.net
The following is taken from the Draft HPC minutes of Monday 14th January 2013’s meeting in relation to the proposed site:
158.2.2 Cllr Mrs Walsh’s report with regards the working party progress on the Development Strategy and the details received on the proposed Gypsy & Traveller site on the land East of A5120 and north ofWestoning Roadwas received.
Resolved: to oppose the Gypsy & Traveller site 13
Proposed by: Cllr Mrs Walsh, seconded by Cllr Woodbridge and unanimously agreed.
Cllr Mrs Walsh read out part of her report which focussed on the planning and suitability/sustainability issues with the site. Members then added additional points to be raised/considered. The Council’s objections were on the basis of:
- The site had been investigated previously by CBC for this purpose and it had been rejected as unsuitable. CBC now says that the site has been chosen having passed its selection process.
- The site is in Flood Zone 2 - although CBC believes it can mitigate this and have said they do not plan to use that part of the site, or would not have included it at this stage of the selection process.
- Cllr Harfield believes there is a problem with sewage overflow on this land - HPC cannot assume that this is not known to CBC and, as they will have to provide sewerage services to the site, CBC may take the opportunity to address this long standing issue. Poor health of travelling communities is a reason for providing sites so putting them on a site with sewage issues and in a highly polluted area would mean they would be in a totally unhealthy environment; the opposite to the reason for providing in the first place. The sewage buffer cannot be removed from under the A5120 main drain as this prevents the sewage from popping up in the village.
- Access to facilities - there is no safe pathway to the shops, station, doctor’s etc. Again this is something that CBC may have plans to address.
- Harlington schools (andParkfieldsMiddle School) will have to accept the children as nearest to the site, regardless of whether they have capacity or funding. This is an issue for the School Governors to discuss and respond to. Governors of both schools have been made aware and had not been contacted by CBC previously.
- The site runs alongside the railway and this is going to have increased traffic of freight trains once work has been completed on the loop line - planned 48 movements of extra large diesel trains day and night, together with passenger trains - it is close to the busy A5120, the most heavily trafficked trunk road in Bedfordshire and not far from the M1 Junction – the slip road is now much closer to the village. HPC expects much heavier traffic of HGV’s and other lorries if the Rail Freight Interchange goes ahead. This would result in poor air quality – already a recognised problem in this area – noise pollution and added dangers of access to the site.
- The site proposed is in extremely close proximity toHarlingtonGardenCemetery.
- This is Green Belt land and not presenting an ‘exceptional circumstance’ as other sites are available. Also Harlington Parish is already having to accept more than its fair share of development with theHillsideplan, the railway and roadway changes and the further development of the rail freight and SRFI at Sundon – which will also affect life in the village. The village has also seen a large expansion of theUpperSchooland a much larger number of pupils using bus, car and trains as well as village shops etc. HPC feels it is being targeted by to many of the plans proposed for the area already; within the Village Plan, residents made it clear how much they valued the rural nature of the village setting and wished to preserve it – not an unacceptable point of view. No suitable sites for development were identified by CBC in the planning strategy documents. This is all therefore, planning by the back door.
- The initial provision is to be of family sites of 10 pitches (not caravans). This to be added to as families expand. This raises questions of the future size of the site should it go ahead.
- Should the fact that this is the case mean that CBC do have a duty to properly consult the residents before arriving at their plans on G&T sites?
- Will there be implications for other areas through use of this field for this purpose. Does this affect other waterways, rivers etc (Flitwick Moor has been suggested, as a tributary to the River Flit runs along part of the site)?
- Are there financial implications for HPC if a site is situated within the village boundary? CPRE have already commented on the last plan and will be putting in their response again.
- The HPC Planning Consultant will be able to add this in his response to the Planning Strategy as it is to be part of that document going forward.
- It is likely that this possibly more contentious issue will distract from the need to make a robust response to the whole of the Planning Strategy itself. The comments made previously will not be carried forward to the Inspector and it is important that HPC does not get sidelined by just one or two issues in that Strategy. HPC needs to ensure that its comments are seen and heard on all of the issues contained within it. HPC also needs to encourage residents to view documents and make their responses, complaints and views known directly to CBC, their MPs and their CBC Councillors and engage fully in consultations. HPC must ensure that all information needed to do this is made available to them through the websites, notice boards and from Councillors and the Office.
- A public meeting will be arranged to further address the issues of the planning strategy, including this one, and invite all relevant bodies and representatives to attend such as Westoning, Tingrith, Flitton & Greenfield, Toddington and Barton.
It was believed that the proposed 34/35 sites were all owned by CBC and approximately 9 were on greenbelt; it was thought that half of the sites would be dropped. It was understood that CBC councillors would be visiting the sites on 22nd/23rd February. The Housing Officer had been asked if she had visited the site herself, and the answer was no.
There were concerns that CBC would still approve the site despite concerns to be raised by HPC and residents and that CBC had not followed proper consultation. Cllr Bathurst spoke with regards the vote of no confidence in Cllr Nicols at the last meeting.
HPC was not sure how CBC intended to mitigate the flooding/sewage issues and it was suggested that a civil engineer or site surveyor be asked to cost the site to see exactly how much it would take to develop the site.
It was also suggested that HPC could work with the new Police Commissioner as there could be a potential increase in crime - not necessarily from the travellers but because it is understood that others take advantage as they know the site will be blamed.
Resolved: to use the above as the basis on which to act
Proposed by: Cllr Mrs Walsh, seconded by Cllr Mrs Eccles and agreed unanimously.
HPC attended the CBC meeting given below on 17th January but will now be working towards building its case as to why site 13 is unsuitable ready for the CBC meeting on 28th February 2013. Please see below:
Overview & Scrutiny Committee
17th January 2013 at 10.00 am - the agenda and related papers can be found at:
This meeting will not discuss the actual sites but the Area Assessment document.
NOTE: It has been established that the details of proposed sites were previously discussed by the same Committee on 10th April 2012; the following link will take you to the minutes of this meeting:
Overview & Scrutiny Committee
28th February 2013-01-17
This is the meeting where the proposed sites will be considered.
19th March 2013 of the Draft Gypsy & Traveller Local Plan
18th April 2013 of the Draft Gypsy & Traveller Local Plan
DOCUMENT TO BE PUBLISHED IN MAY WITH A 6 WEEK CONSULTATION PERIOD TO FOLLOW
All representation to be considered by the Council and necessary amendments made to the Local Plan.
Submission to the Secretary of State
Cllr Mrs Mary Walsh represented HPC at the meeting on 17th January with the following presentation.
CBC O&S meeting 17th January 2013 G&T sites
Thank you Chairman
We recognise that this meeting is not to discuss the listed sites, and that you are aware of the strong local opposition to several of the sites put forward. We, ask you to note our concern at the lack of consultation on the site list and the lack of notice of its existence and of this meeting. (7th Jan)
Much of the work was done on the G&T site provision prior to 2009, by Vision Twentyone – who were engaged by CBC to produce a Preferred Sites Consultation, Gypsy and Traveller DPD for the previous Mid Bedfordshire area, and which included 7 proposed sites and refers to 9 previously rejected sites. The increase in the number of sites from 22 at this time to 35 now, is based on projections to 2031, and includes a 3% compound growth rate for pitches.
As the stated aim is to create small family sites, with room for those families to expand, there should not be a need for that expanded family to move to other sites. The CBC growth rate has been based on a National Average of 3%, The DCLG called for a provision for 5 years as a ‘reasonable figure’. This projection is for 18 years – no real time data is available or relied upon at this time.
We would challenge the estimated need and its basis, the period of time and the site selection process to meet that supposed need.
I refer to Appendix B. It would appear that the G&T Community are not necessarily to be granted the equal right to live in an unpolluted environment, away from the dangers of flooding, and without regard to the health and welfare issues that would arise from unsuitable site allocations. I would refer you to the Sustainability Appraisal of July 2012, particularly page 8, for reference to identified problems. Flooding, noise, sewage-pollution, poor air quality, water supply constraints, water logging, busy and unsafe roads etc. These cannot be mitigated, as the selection criteria seeks to do, by balancing that with the availability of shops, schools, transport and GPs, to create a positive ‘sum’ in favour of development.
We would not expect to see G&T sites established on any location where there would be a risk to safety, health and wellbeing.
I refer you to the DCLG Planning for Traveller Sites document points 3.3 and 3.5, where it is made very clear that Green Belt is to be protected and not allocated for G&T sites. I quote from that document ; protect Green Belt from development; and reduce tensions between settled and traveller communities in relation to the planning system. This will lead to the provision of appropriate sites in appropriate places and support enforcement action if local planning authorities have complied with the policy. 3.14-3.16 also apply.
I would ask that you give attention to these points in your deliberations today.
A report of this meeting will be written and added to this page in due course. In the meantime, the following link will take you straight to the Gyspy & Traveller Plan on CBC’s website:
Detailed below it the Assessment Methodology used for choosing the sites:
Meeting: Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Date: 10 April 2012
Subject: Gypsy and Traveller Plan: Pitch Numbers and Site Assessment Methodology
Report of: Cllr Ken Matthews , Executive Member for Sustainable Communities - Strategic Planning and Economic Development
Summary: The report sets out the target for pitches to 2031 for Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople in Central Bedfordshire and proposes a methodology for assessing sites for allocation to accommodate these pitches.
Advising Officer: Richard Fox, Head of Development Planning and Strategic Housing
Contact Officer: Pru Khimasia-John, Principal Planning Officer
Wards Affected: All
Function of: Council
1. The Local Development Framework is a fundamental part of the Council’s key aim to manage growth effectively
2. The Gypsy and Traveller Plan is intended to provide for local Gypsy and Traveller pitch need. Having a robust strategy in place helps reduce the incidences of unauthorised encampments which create a financial burden on the authority. In turn, a robust strategy will assist in the determination of planning applications and potentially reduce the costs of defending planning applications on appeal. The cost of the Plan can be met from within existing resources.
3. The Gypsy and Traveller Plan, when adopted, will be part of the statutory development plan for the area.
4. The following risks have been identified:
- Failure to discharge statutory responsibilities
- Reputational risks associated with the failure to address the needs of Gypsies and Travellers and the local community
- Financial risks associated with unauthorised encampments
- Risk of challenge and appeals
- Risk of inaccurate forecasting of requirements
These risks have been identified and appropriate mitigating action will be taken.
Staffing (including Trades Unions):
5. Not Applicable.
6. Under the Equality Act, public authorities have a statutory duty to promote equality of opportunity, eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and foster good relations in respect of nine protected characteristics; age disability, gender re-assignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
7. In drawing up the Gypsy and Traveller Plan an Equality Impact Assessment will be undertaken. This will highlight the specific needs and interests of Gypsy and Traveller communities who are at a significantly greater risk of lower quality of life outcomes.
8. Gypsies and Travellers can sometimes find themselves in a cycle of ‘enforced’ nomadism, being continually moved on by the authorities because of the shortage of authorised sites. As a result, Gypsies and Travellers are often more disadvantaged than any other ethnic group in terms of access to healthcare and education. The lack of authorised public sites and the difficulties associated with getting planning permission for private sites, has meant that Gypsies and Travellers have set up home on land belonging to others or on their own land without permission.
9. Approval of the Plan could help to close achievement and health inequalities, reduce racial tensions associated with unauthorised sites, increase the participation of Gypsy and Traveller communities in decision making and service delivery processes and increase a sense of belonging.
10. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has recently published a Human Rights Review which highlights that the human rights of some groups are not always fully protected by public authorities. The Commission has highlighted that there continues to be a lack of appropriate accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers and that this may be in contravention of Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.
Article 8 does not impose an obligation on public authorities to provide homes for anybody, or to provide sites for Gypsies and Travellers. It does, however, oblige authorities to respect the home. This applies particularly in situations where local authorities wish to evict people from their homes. Due to a long term lack of authorised sites, Gypsies and Travellers often have no choice other than to live in unauthorised sites. This increases the likelihood that they will face eviction.
The review shows that:
- To date, the courts have not found a breach of Article 8 in relation to an eviction from an unauthorised Gypsy and Traveller site. However, there may be grounds for challenging this precedent.
- There continues to be a shortage of authorised Gypsy and Traveller sites, increasing the likelihood of further forced evictions from unauthorised sites. The European Court has recognised that there needs to be special consideration given to the needs and different lifestyle of Gypsies and Travellers in the context of planning decisions, and the Commission expects to see further consideration of this issue over the coming years The Commission recently reviewed the progress made by local authorities in England and Wales in meeting their targets for site provision under the planning system in force up to 2010. The report indicated that there has been some progress in making legal sites available for Gypsies and Travellers in England, as there were 15 per cent more pitches available in 2009 than there were in 2006. The report estimated that an additional 5,821 residential pitches were required in England in the first five years after a local needs assessment was completed. There is evidence that the planning system may not be fair towards Gypsies and Travellers. Department for Communities and Local Government figures from April 2009 to December 2010 show that only half of applications for new sites are successful in England, compared with around 70 per cent of residential applications. The Commission’s report attributes this low success rate to very few local authorities having identified suitable land for site development, which means that ‘plan-led’ development cannot operate in the same way as for residential applicants. In addition, the survey of local authorities carried out for the Commission report showed that between 2006 and 2009, 40 per cent of the applications for new sites in England were granted only on appeal, and half of the ‘successful’ applications for new sites only received temporary permissions.
11. Section 17 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 sets out the Councils responsibility to do all that it reasonably can to prevent crime and disorder in its area. There is no specific provision within the criteria for assessing suitability of proposed sites to consider community safety issues. The Council is required to consider community safety across all of its functions and it will be necessary, as suitable sites are identified, to engage with the Councils Community Safety Team and key stakeholders such as Bedfordshire Police to assess what, if any, community safety implications there may be with a view to mitigating or resolving concerns.
12. The Local Development Framework embraces sustainable development as its overarching aim and has and will continue to be subject to a sustainability appraisal.
13. Not applicable.
14. Gypsies and Travellers experience significantly worse health outcomes compared to the settled community. Although they have the same illnesses and problems as the general population, their life expectancy is poorer across age ranges than the settled population; for example, it is 10-12 years less than the UK life expectancy of 82 years. Levels of prenatal mortality, still births and infant mortality in Gypsy and Traveller communities are significantly higher than the national average. Gypsy and Traveller mothers are 20 times more likely to have experienced the death of a child than the rest of the population. Gypsies and Travellers experience significant barriers accessing health and social care services, and these have implications for continuity of care as well as primary health care needs. The factors are complex, but include, poor literacy skills, fear, competing priorities, enforced mobility, transport, poor time keeping, inflexible systems, discrimination, marginalisation, lack of trust and low expectations on the part of service providers and users. These are reinforced by the different beliefs, attitudes and cultures of Gypsy and Traveller communities and professionals.
The Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee is asked to:-
1. Recommend to the Director of Sustainable Communities that the total number of pitches for allocation in the Gypsy and Traveller Plan, for both the Gypsy and Traveller and Travelling Showpeople communities, be approved for consultation purposes.
2. Recommend to the Director of Sustainable Communities that the methodology and criteria to shortlist sites be approved.
15. Recent draft guidance states that the Government believes that local planning authorities are best placed to know the needs of their communities. Local planning authorities will be given the freedom and responsibility to determine the right level of traveller site provision in their area in consultation with local communities. The new draft policy enables local planning authorities to make their own assessment of need for the purposes of planning, based on robust evidence of local need in the light of historical demand.
16. Until recently, Central Bedfordshire Council were preparing a Gypsy and Traveller Development Plan Document for the North area. This document was withdrawn following the Executive on 4 October 2011 (see below for more information). In the South, the need for pitches has been addressed to date through the granting of planning permissions.
17. The Council has resolved to support the provision of pitches in accordance with the locally derived Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment and supplement this using a 3% compound growth.
18. In the North, the Executive1 on 28 September 2010 decided that:
- a total of 26 additional permanent pitches be allocated up to the end of 2015; and
- there be no requirement for any further local needs assessment to be undertaken of Gypsy and Traveller accommodation up to the end of 2015.
19. In the South, the Executive2 on 11 January 2011 decided that:
- a total of 55 additional permanent pitches be provided up to the end of 2015.
20. These decisions above were superseded as the Executive3 on 4 October 2011 supported a new plan making process in Central Bedfordshire and the preparation of a Central Bedfordshire-wide Gypsy and Traveller Plan to deliver the combined pitch requirement for the northern and southern parts of Central Bedfordshire to 2031.
Gypsy and Traveller Pitch Numbers
21. Based on the approach set out above, the table below shows the Gypsy and Traveller pitch requirement for Central Bedfordshire to 2031.
22. Table 1: Gypsy and Traveller Pitch Requirement to 2031
Pitch Need from 2006 to 2011 57
Growth between 2011 and 2016 (3%) 28
Growth between 2016 and 2021 (3%) 33
Growth between 2021 and 2026 (3%) 38
Growth between 2026 and 2031 (3%) 45
Total (from 2006 to 2031) 201
Existing Permanent Permissions granted
between 2006 and March 2012
(to be subtracted from the total) 66
OVERALL NEED TO 2031
(minus recently approved pitches) 135
23. There are allocations and sites with temporary planning permission or windfall applications that we are aware of (see Table 2 below). If these are granted planning permission an additional estimated 37* pitches could be found outside of the allocation process, therefore bring the total number of pitches to be allocated to 98.
24. Table 2: Potential Gypsy and Traveller Pitch Delivery on Existing Sites Pitches on
Banked LDF Sites 17
Other pitches with temporary permission or the
result of windfall applications which are yet to
be determined 20
TOTAL Estimated Number of pitches
that could be granted permission in
the next 12-18 months 374
Using the 3% compound growth rate
25. The 3% compound growth rate was derived following work undertaken by the East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) and was included in adopted policy in the East of England Plan. This means the rate was tested and approved by an independent Panel following the examination of the regional plan.
26. This rate of growth is significantly higher than the rate of increase in the settled community to take account of the large families and shorter generations of Gypsies and Travellers. It is a pragmatic estimate as little demographic data exists to enable a firm estimate.
27. Whilst the Government has announced its intention to abolish Regional Spatial Strategies, this is subject to the outcome of the Strategic Environmental Assessments currently being undertaken, so the East of England Plan does continue to carry some weight as a material planning consideration. Moreover, the figure was tested at Examination and found to be sound.
Travelling Showpeople Pitch Numbers
28. As with Gypsy and Traveller need, CBC can use the locally derived assessment of need for Travelling Showpeople. The David Couttie Associates (DCA) Travelling Showpeople Accommodation Assessment (2007) recommends 19 pitches for Bedford and Central Bedfordshire between 2007 and 2010. The table below shows how these 19 pitches are split proportionately between the local authorities.
29. Table 3: Travelling Showpeople Pitch Requirement to 2010 proportionately split between Bedfordshire authorities.
Local Authority Recommended % of Need
Central Bedfordshire 12 63%
Bedford 7 37%
TOTAL 19 100%
4 At March 2012. This is subject to amendment and therefore provides an estimation only.
30. On the assumption that determining the level of growth beyond 2010 can be done using the 1.5% compound growth rate (identified in the East of England Plan) the table overleaf shows the total Travelling Showpeople pitch requirement for Bedfordshire as a whole, and Central Bedfordshire alone, to 2031.
31. Table 4: Travelling Showpeople Pitch Requirement to 2031
Pitch Need in Bedfordshire from 2007 to 2010 19
Growth between 2010 and 2016 (1.5%) 7
Growth between 2016 and 2021 (1.5%) 6
Growth between 2021 and 2026 (1.5%) 8
Growth between 2026 and 2031 (1.5%) 6
Total Need in Bedfordshire from 2007 to 2031 46
Total Need For Central Bedfordshire (63% Of Total - see Table 3) 29
Minus the pitches granted Planning Permission since 2007
in Central Bedfordshire 6
OVERALL NEED FOR CENTRAL BEDFORDSHIRE TO 2031 23
Pitches on Banked LDF Sites 4
32. The local assessment fails to make a recommendation for the future growth rate of Travelling Showpeople (due to concerns with the small sample size). The 1.5% was the outcome of work undertaken by EERA for the East of England Plan policy. This was accepted as a robust representation of the level of growth across the region by the Showman’s Guild at the Examination of the East of England Plan. As the Bedfordshire Travelling Showpeople Accommodation Assessment does not make a recommendation for future growth, this figure derived regionally is the best estimation of growth.
33. Table 4 above shows that there is an allocation in the North which if granted planning permission would provide an additional 4 pitches, therefore bring the total number of Showpeople pitches to be allocated to 19.
34. Guidance set out in Circular 01/2006 Planning for Gypsy and Traveller Caravan Sites states that in deciding where to provide Gypsy and Traveller sites, local planning authorities should first consider locations in or near existing settlements with access to local services, e.g. shops, doctors and schools. It also states that sites may be acceptable in principle in rural or semi rural areas which are not subject to special planning constraints.
35. Recent draft government guidance on Planning for Travellers (DCLG) seeks to mainstream the way in which provision is made for Gypsies and Travellers so sites are assessed in the same way as bricks and mortar housing. However it also does not rule out rural sites and states that when assessing the suitability of sites in rural or semi-rural settings, local authorities should ensure that the scale of such sites does not dominate the nearest settled community. The guidance states that local planning authorities should strictly limit new development in open countryside that is away from existing settlements or outside areas allocated in the development plan. However, they should recognise that some rural areas may be acceptable for some forms of traveler sites. Local authorities should ensure that sites in rural areas respect the scale of, and do not dominate the nearest settled community, and avoid placing an undue pressure on the local infrastructure.
36. As such, whilst there should be a preference for sites in or near existing settlements, the Council will need to take a pragmatic view on location. As past experience shows, finding sites in a highly sustainable location is not always easily done. Both the Gypsy and Traveller Community and the settled community have in some cases expressed their preference for rural sites. In fact many existing sites in Central Bedfordshire are located in rural areas and the Council should consider extension of existing sites as part of their search to accommodate pitches.
37. Firstly, using the following criteria, sites are assessed for their immediate suitability. Should a site fail one or more of these criteria it is instantly dismissed:
1.1 Located in a Site of Special Scientific Interest or Area of Natural Beauty
1.2 Located in Flood Risk Zone 3
1.3 Located in or adjacent to an unsafe environment or hazardous place.
38. A second assessment against the following criteria helps provide another assessment of the suitability of sites. On investigation, if any of these issues can not be overcome, the site may have to be dismissed. Shortlisting sites will be dependent on the cost of remediation – high costs may make the allocation of a site unviable and therefore it will have to be dismissed:
2.1 Located in Flood Zone 2 – Sustainable drainage techniques can overcome any concerns
2.2 Located in the Green Belt – are there very special circumstances to warrant further consideration of the site?
2.3 Safe access from the public highway – Is there any highways works that can be done to provide safe access?
2.4 Visual and acoustic privacy and visual amenity – Can landscaping and planting provide visual and acoustic amenity?
2.5 Located on contaminated land – Can the land be remediated?
2.6 Consideration of potential impact on areas of archaeological significance – Is there any mitigation that can be undertaken?
2.7 Sites located in areas of protected wildlife should be avoided or where appropriate assessed by wildlife survey – are there any protected species on site which therefore stops development of the land?
2.8 Consideration of potential impact on landscape and nature designations, including Green Infrastructure, Village Greens and Common Land – will the site have a detrimental impact?
2.9 The proximity to other allocations in the Waste Core Strategy, the Site Allocations DPD (North) and the Joint Core Strategy for South Beds and Luton.
2.10 Incline of the Site – is the site too steep therefore making development difficult?
2.11 Located adjacent to the motorway – does the impact of noise or pollution generated from the motorway make the site undevelopable?
39. Finally sites will be assessed for their impact on the following listed criteria. These will also be scored. Following their assessment and scoring a summary of the issues at each site will be presented to Members for their consideration and their recommendation of which sites should be shortlisted. As with any site consideration, whilst high scoring sites may be preferable, there may be a valid reason for the shortlisting of lower scoring sites.
3.1 Located on Brownfield or Greenfield land?
– Can high grade quality agricultural Brownfield (5)
land be avoided? Greenfield (3)
High Grade Agriculture (0)
3.2 Access to major roads Good, Within 0.5 - 1 mile (5)
Fair, Within 1 - 2 miles (3)
Poor, Within 2 -3 miles (1)
No Score, Over 3 miles (0)
3.3 Access to public transport services Good, Within 5 min walk (5)
Fair, Within 10 min walk (3)
Poor, Within 20 min walk (1)
3.4 Access to health services (GP) Good, Within 10 min walk (5)
Fair, Within 20 min walk (3)
Poor, Within 30 min walk (1)
Anything above 30 min (0)
3.5 Access to school, further education or training Good, Within 10 minutes walk (5)
Fair, Within 20 minutes walk (3)
Poor, Within 30 minutes walk (1)
Anything above 30 minutes (0)
3.6 Access to community facilities Good, Within 10 minutes walk (5)
Fair, Within 20 minutes walk (3)
Poor, Within 30 minutes walk (1)
Anything above 30 minutes (0)
3.7 Serviceable by Gas/Electricity/ Sewerage Yes, all (5)
Yes, some (3)
3.8 Provision of Waste and Recycling Facilities Yes (5)
40. Additional information will be provided with the scores where it is appropriate.
For example, where sites may score highly for their proximity to public transport, the true value of this score will only be judged by the frequency of the bus service.
41. There may be other considerations that Members might wish to make. This can include an assessment of the impact of a new site and its size on the nearest settlements or the preferences of the Gypsy and Traveller community of where they wish to live. Such additional issues can all form part of the overall assessment made by Members when shortlisting sites.
42. This was a similar process to that that adopted for the Site Allocations DPD in the North of CBC. This process was considered sound by the Inspector in his assessment of that plan, as he stated: “The site selection process devised by the Council is an attempt to put its decision making on a systematic basis but it is not an attempt to remove the element of judgement and replace it with a point scoring exercise. This is a sensible and pragmatic approach.”
Timescales / Next Steps
43. This report seeks the OSC’s recommendations to the Director of Sustainable Communities to approve the pitch numbers and methodology for short listing sites for the purposes of public consultation. This accords with paragraph 4.4.63 of the Constitution, which authorises the Director in consultation with the Executive Member (under the Scheme of Delegation) "To prepare and approve Local Development Framework documents (including Development Plan Documents, technical documents/background papers and the Sustainability Appraisal/Strategic Environmental Assessment) for the purposes of public consultation and to vary such documents in the light of the outcome of public consultation”.
44. Officers are currently looking through the Council’s land database to consider the Council’s own sites. A call for sites has been published and closes on 11 April. This invites landowners to promote their land for Gypsy and Traveller or Travelling Showpeople pitches. Additionally Officers will be contacting all other public land owners in Central Bedfordshire to assess their intentions with their sites.
45. The timetable for this work is as follows:
Table 5: Gypsy and Traveller Plan Timetable
Projected timetable Milestones
Commencement (including SA Scoping Report) January 2012
Evidence Gathering - OSC meeting prior to consultation February – September 2012
Consultation on site options October - November 2012
Consideration of consultation responses and produce
revised Plan with preferred sites December 2012 – April 2013
Publication stage (Regulation 27) on the final draft document May – June 2013
Submission to Secretary of State September 2013
Examination Hearings January 2014
Receipt of Draft Inspector’s Report April 2014
Adoption June 2014
46. The Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be consulted following the assessment of all sites identified on the Council’s own database or submitted by landowners. Officers will aim to do this in September 2012.
HPC advises residents that the more individual letters that are sent to CBC (copied to HPC) the better. A letter from HPC counts as 1 response so every resident that has an opinion on this proposal needs to send a letter - the more responses received, the more notice taken.
FURTHER INFORMATION WILL BE ADDED AS IT BECOMES AVAILABLE