The updated advice on what action can be taken by councils and the police (Planning Practice Guidance) when coupled with the very recent DCLG guidance on gypsies and travellers ‘Planning Policy for Traveller Sites’ appears to be part of a drive by central government to place the location and treatment of gypsies and travellers entirely in hands of local planning authorities who are to take account of peaceful coexistence with local residents. Given that gypsy and traveller status by itself plus the familiar health and other issues that are connected with their lifestyles (and normally form part of any planning application) are to be considered irrelevant to whether an exception should apply to green field and green belt development, both temporary and permanent, and given also the new definition of their status that means ceasing to travel may now take them outside the definition of gypsy/traveller in the first place, this amended national guidance in the PPG will ensure that councils are well placed to chase any problem, as they see it, from their doorsteps. Since the provision of settlements for gypsies and travellers is entirely in the hands of local planning authorities it seems likely that, lacking any nationwide political will to address the long standing topic of such accommodation, there will continue to be battles fought  by way of appeals and in the court room when facing injunctions.

Written by Kevin Leigh, Barrister in the No5 Planning and Environment Group.