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Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan

July 2022 Update

Progress on the Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan has been delayed, as a result of the nutrient neutrality requirement affecting part of the borough.

In 2020, the Council received advice from Natural England (and updated in March 2022) pertaining to the deteriorating water quality in the Stodmarsh Lakes.  A consequence of this advice, in light of relevant case law, is that any development proposing overnight accommodation within the Stour catchment, or discharging foul water to a wastewater treatment works in the catchment, is required to demonstrate nutrient neutrality.

This requirement applies to Gypsy and Traveller accommodation.  Therefore any sites that would be promoted through the Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan would need to be able to demonstrate nutrient neutrality.

The Council is seeking to address this impediment to development, by developing strategic mitigation.  Work on this strategic mitigation is still ongoing. 

It is considered that the strategic mitigation for nutrient neutrality will need to be sufficiently progressed to enable the Council to sustainably plan across the entire borough.

As a result, the Council has paused word on the Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan and this work will now be combined in to a future Local Plan Review.

View a copy of the Local Development Scheme which sets out the timescales for Local Plan documents.

Why do we need a Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan?

We are committed to meeting the accommodation needs of the Gypsy and Traveller community within the borough, in the same way as the housing needs of the settled community are planned for in the Local Plan 2030. National Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (PPTS) also requires that local planning authorities identify and update annually a five year supply of deliverable sites for travellers, and to identify a supply of specific, deliverable sites, or broad locations for years 6-10 and, where possible, years 11-15.

A Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) is needed to fulfil the council’s obligations under the PPTS and provides a robust assessment of need and supply. The GTAA informs the preparation of the DPD by providing an indication of the number of pitches the site policies in the DPD need to provide. In 2018, we commissioned ARC4 to carry out a GTAA on our behalf.  The survey work was conducted in winter 2017/2018 and was carried out in conjunction with other authorities across East Kent. The results include a proposed number of pitches that are needed in the borough to meet the needs that have been calculated. View the full 2018 GTAA report [pdf] 1240KB.

The adopted Local Plan 2030 proposed a dual approach to traveller site/pitch provision. It allocated three new pitches through Policies S43 at Biddenden and S44 at Westwell. In addition, Policy HOU16 allows for suitable ‘windfall’ (unidentified) pitches to come forward to further contribute to the supply where they meet a set of criteria and Policy HOU17 safeguards existing pitches. However, this does not meet all of the pitch needs identified in the GTAA. In order to meet the outstanding site and pitch needs, work had commenced on a separate Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan to address this shortfall.  This work will now form part of the next Local Plan Review, rather than a separate Local Plan.

Previous stages of plan production

Issues and Options

An issues and options consultation was carried out in early 2018. The responses from the first consultation will assist the council to analyse the merits and drawbacks of all the practical options available for providing sites for gypsies, travellers and travelling showpeople.

View the issues and options consultation.

Options

An options consultation was carried out in early 2020.

This ‘options report' was designed to highlight the key issues around this specific topic, while suggesting options to address these issues. The format of the document was to provide some background information and then pose a series of ‘options’ as questions.

View the Gypsy and Traveller Local Plan Options Report 2020 consultation.

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