Planning, building and the environment


Gypsies and travellers have lived and travelled in this country for at least 500 years. Most now live in bricks and mortar housing and the majority of those living in caravans are on authorised public or private sites. However, aroundĀ 20 per cent of traveller caravans are on unauthorised sites.

While the trend in unauthorised encampments and trespass by travellers is going down, the trend in unauthorised developments has been going up as a small minority of travellers bypass the planning system and develop sites without planning permission. This has worsened community cohesion and created resentment against the overwhelming majority of law-abiding travellers.


Top-down traveller site provision targets have failed to deliverĀ - a recent Equality and Human Rights Commission report estimated that at current rates of permanent pitch provision it would take 18 years to hit targets set for 2011.

Gypsies and travellers face the most serious disadvantages of all ethnic minority groups with a much shorter life expectancy, low income and poor access to finance. Their children have high mortality rates and the lowest educational attainment.

What we are doing:

  • replacing Circular 01/06: Planning for Gypsy and Traveller sites with new light-touch guidance
  • introducing stronger planning enforcement powers to help local authorities deal with breaches of planning control and limiting the opportunities for retrospective planning applications
  • encouraging local authorities to provide, in consultation with the local community, an appropriate number of traveller sites that reflect local and historic demand. Exploring incentives for site provision and innovative ways in which traveller sites can be funded and maintained
  • co-ordinating action across Government to tackle the discrimination and poor social outcomes faced by gypsies and travellers and seeking to remove barriers that are stopping them from taking part in the Big Society.

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