New site funding offers fairer deal for travellers and the settled community

COMMUNITIES Minister Andrew Stunell has announced the successful bids for £60 million of funding that will provide hundreds of new authorised pitches as well as better facilities for travellers on official sites.

This includes £500K for 10 new pitches in Cambridge.

The Homes and Communities Agency have completed their assessment of bids and have recommended offers from successful councils and other organisations that will deliver over 750 new and improved pitches at a cost of £47m.

New bids for the remaining £13 million of the £60 million budget will continue to be considered and the Agency will help those who had their bids rejected to improve and resubmit their offers so that further pitches can be delivered over the next three years.

This new support for official traveller pitches goes hand in hand with action against unauthorised traveller sites. Through the Localism Act, the Government is introducing stronger powers for councils to tackle the abuse of retrospective planning permission. These strengthened powers are helping councils tackle any form of unauthorised development.

The new authorised travellers’ sites will provide help to reduce the number of unauthorised sites, which create tensions between travellers and the settled community.

Ministers believe the previous system was ineffective because traveller site funding was allocated but often remained unspent. They also argue that by imposing top-down targets for traveller sites, local councils were compelled to encroach onto the Green Belt, leading to an increase in the number of unauthorised sites and seriously harming community relations.

Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said: “This funding will help provide sites in a way that reflects local need in consultation with the local community.

“It will assist hundreds of traveller families find sites where they want to live and foster better relations with the existing communities and councils.

“We are ending the failed system where Whitehall attempted to dictate where sites went. Instead we have brought back fairness to communities and putting travellers and the settled population on a level playing field.

“New authorised sites, with the support of local communities, will be treated on an equal footing as new bricks and mortar homes, with councils getting powerful financial benefits for building authorised sites where they are needed.”

Thursday’s announcement is the latest step to introduce a more local and fair way of providing sites for travellers. Other measures include: strengthening measures to tackle any abuse of the planning system; stronger enforcement powers for councils; providing powerful cash incentives for councils to build authorised sites through the New Homes Bonus; and training for councillors about their leadership role in relation to traveller site provision and planning applications for sites.