Policy Option 32 - Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople

Policy Option 32 - Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople


All the local authorities in Oxfordshire have a responsibility to address the needs for Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople. Currently across Oxfordshire there are 6 permanent council-owned traveller sites, providing 89 pitches and 21 privately run authorised sites.

In accordance with national planning policy, a county-wide Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) has been commissioned jointly to inform the production of the Oxfordshire Plan. The current evidence across the county comprises the Cherwell, Oxford City, South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse GTAA 2017 and the West Oxfordshire GTAA 2016. The Oxfordshire GTAA which will support the Oxfordshire Plan 2050 is an update of the 201 & 2017 GTAA's.

The Government's planning policy document, Planning Policy for Traveller Sites, sets out that local authorities should set targets which address the likely permanent and transit accommodation needs of Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople. This document provides definitions for Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople. For the purpose of planning policy 'gypsies and travellers' means:

Persons of nomadic habit of life whatever their race or origin, including such persons who on grounds only of their own or their family’s or dependants’ educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily, but excluding members of an organised group of travelling showpeople or circus people travelling together as such.’

For the purpose of this planning policy 'travelling showpeople' means:

Members of a group organised for the purposes of holding fairs, circuses or shows (whether or not travelling together as such). This includes such persons who on the grounds of their own or their family’s or dependants’ more localised pattern of trading, educational or health needs or old age have ceased to travel temporarily, but excludes Gypsies and Travellers as defined above.’

The Oxfordshire Plan will play an important role in assessing county-wide accommodation needs and travel patterns. The Government's overarching aim is to ensure fair and equal treatment for travellers, in a way that facilitates the traditional and nomadic way of life of travellers while respecting the interests of the settled community. It is important to note that Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople have different accommodation need requirements. For example, Travelling Showpeople need additional space in order to store and maintain large equipment and vehicles.

The Oxfordshire Plan will provide an overarching framework, supported by the GTAA. The proposed methodology of the GTAA will provide an accommodation need figure based on ethnic identity; and also a figure based on the definitions above from national policy. The needs of those who are not covered in the GTAA will be addressed through the Oxfordshire Growth Needs Assessment (‘OGNA’).

One of the aims of Government is working collaboratively to develop fair and effective strategies to meet need through the identification of land for sites. Given the transient nature of Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople, collaborative working with neighbourhood authorities has played an important role and will continue to play an important role as the Oxfordshire Plan progresses. The Oxfordshire Plan provides an opportunity to work collaboratively to develop a county-wide strategy to meet these needs.

The GTAA will assess the accommodation needs of Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople for the period 2020-2035 and consider potential future needs up to 2050 for the whole of the county. It will quantify the accommodation needs, relating to permanent pitches/plots, sites/yards, and transit sites and/or negotiated stopping arrangements. The GTAA will not recommend any sites for allocation; this will be done via local plans and the Oxfordshire Plan will provide the overarching strategic framework.

Policy Options

The proposed policy options relating to Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople have been informed by the emerging evidence base, primarily the Oxfordshire GTAA. The GTAA will provide a need figure for each local authority, as well as advising on potential strategic approaches, but site allocations will remain with the local plan.

Due to COVID-19, the preparation of the GTAA has been delayed with the household surveys unable to be completed prior to this consultation. It is anticipated these will resume shortly and the final GTAA will be published at the next stage of consultation (Regulation 19).

Preferred Policy Proposal

Policy Option 32: Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople

The Oxfordshire Plan will set out an Oxfordshire-wide need figure and local planning authority breakdowns in 5-year tranches per each authority.

The Oxfordshire Plan will set out locational criteria for the provision of pitches for Gypsies and Travellers, plots for Travelling Showpeople and transit sites/pitches, this may include, but is not limited to:

- Safe access for pedestrians and vehicles;
- Accessibility to facilities and services;
- Availability of utilities;- Green Belt (subject to the provisions of the NPPF);
- Landscape – e.g. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (subject to the provisions of the NPPF);
- Flooding;- Historic and natural environment;
- Accessibility to preferred routes on the highway network; and  
- Impact on human health/ natural environment/ local amenity.

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