Gypsies and Travellers
The London Plan
the Mayor’s response to the Recommendations of the EiP
July 2011 (v1.01)
The Mayor recently published the newly approved London Plan and his response to the Panel’s recommendations from the Public Enquiry (EiP) into the Plan.
He rejected, outright, all of the recommendations on the provision of pitches for Gypsies and Travellers.
These rejected recommendations were that the plan should include
- a London-wide target of 268 Gypsy and Traveller pitches over 10 years (27 pitches or 1 hectare a year), which is
– based on the 2008 Accommodation Needs Assessment (GTAA)
– allocated by sub-region
- protection of existing sites
- a key performance indicator of pitch numbers to help monitor the implementation of the plan.
The approved policy (3.8i) states that “Boroughs should ensure that ….. the accommodation requirements of gypsies and travellers …. are identified and addressed.” In the supporting paragraphs the Mayor passes all responsibility to the Boroughs. These bland statements will do little to meet the pressing needs of Gypsies and Travellers for pitches.
- Even the target of 268 proposed by the Panel relate only to the needs of the 600 Gypsy and Traveller families already living on sites. It disregards the needs of the 3,500 families in houses in the Capital, very many of whom have been forced into housing by site closure and lack of pitch provision. The GTAA estimated that 550 more pitches should be provided over 10 years for these housed families who most seriously need a pitch.
- This final policy surely gives the lie to the Mayor’s much vaunted policy of listening. It depends who you are. Gypsies and Travellers participated constructively in the planning process making a large number of valuable contributions. There was a seven hour hearing during the EiP devoted to this one policy, attended by a diverse group of Gypsies and Travellers and support organisations (including JSN and LGTU). The Mayor did not listen to these people.
- The removal of pitch targets in the Plan is clearly linked to the attempt by the Government to abolish Regional Plans with their targets. But, in the CALA case, the Court of Appeal recently judged that “it would be unlawful for a local planning authority preparing, or a planning inspector examining, development plan documents to have regard to the proposal to abolish regional strategies.” So the Plan goes against the law.
The Mayor’s policy statement (16/7/10) that he was ditching pitch targets did not contain an impact appraisal, again probably making it illegal.
- The Panel accepted the robust evidence that the majority of Boroughs would do nothing without clear leadership from the Mayor. Bexley’s recent statement that they have no need for more pitches is an example of this.
- The evidence also shows that the number of pitches has dropped by 15% over the last few years and this will continue unless existing pitches are protected.
- The final Plan makes no mention of the GLA and Boroughs’ 2008 Accommodation Needs Assessment which was significant and ground breaking research into the needs of London’s Gypsy and Traveller community. The Plan’s silence on this will encourage Boroughs to start a Needs Assessment again from scratch: a profligate use of public money and denial of good evidence.
LGTU is one of the groups making up the Just Space Network
contact: Bernard Bourdillon firstname.lastname@example.org