Draft Local Plan October 2012

Travelling Communities

5.38 There is a need to ensure the housing needs of the whole community are met including travelling communities such as Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople. At present in West Oxfordshire there are ten authorised Gypsy and Traveller sites, two in the northern half of the District (at Kingham and Chadlington) and eight in the southern half (Standlake, Alvescot, Minster Lovell, Weald, Carterton, Stanton Harcourt, Barnard Gate and Eynsham).

5.39 Most of the sites are small, accommodating one family. The Beeches, near Chadlington, and the site at Ting Tang Lane, near Minster Lovell, are the two largest sites with in excess of 20 and 30 pitches respectively. Other than The Furlong at Standlake which is owned and managed by Oxfordshire County Council, all the sites are privately run. There are five sites for Travelling Showpeople in the District, all privately owned, at: Cassington, Witney, Shilton, Sutton and Freeland. In addition there is an unauthorised encampment of new travellers at Eynsham (for 5 families) and a currently unoccupied unauthorised development for 8 pitches for Gypsies at Tar Road, Stanton Harcourt.

5.40 The Government is aiming to increase the number of authorised sites in order to address under provision, maintain an appropriate level of supply and allow travellers to access education, health, welfare and employment. In terms of future requirements for travelling communities within the District, a partial review to the South East Plan recommended, in 2009, that 14 new pitches were required for Gypsies and Travellers and 12 for Travelling Showpeople in West Oxfordshire between 2006 and 2016. However some of the background evidence underpinning the requirements for Gypsies and Travellers in particular has been called into question and in light of the proposed abolition of the South East Plan, it is for West Oxfordshire District Council to determine the level of provision and where sites should be located, in consultation with the local community and having regard to historical demand.

5.41 The Oxfordshire Needs Assessment for Travelling Showpeople (2008) identified the need for 13 new plots in West Oxfordshire by 2018. (Six plots have since been given planning approval at Freeland.) Projecting this trend forward to 2029 (using a 3% compound growth rate to household formation), indicates the need for an additional 3 plots between 2018 and 2029; the indication is, therefore, that there is a need for the provision of a further 10 plots by 2029.

5.42 To obtain a more accurate and up to date assessment of Gypsies and Travellers requirements, the District Council has jointly commissioned an accommodation needs assessment (with Cherwell District and South Northamptonshire Council). This study will be published in autumn 2012 with a view to informing a partial review of the Local Plan or the preparation of a separate development plan document (DPD). In the interim, we will adopt the following criteria-based approach.

CORE POLICY 10 - Travelling Communities

New pitches/plots/sites for Gypsies, Travellers and Travelling Showpeople will be provided in accordance with identified needs by:

  • safeguarding existing sites
  • extending existing sites where appropriate
  • bringing forward new sites if required, either through planning permission or through the development plan process.

New sites should meet the following criteria:

  • be in or near existing settlements with access to local services and facilities, especially schools, shops and healthcare;
  • be well located to the highway and public transport network, as well as having safe and convenient vehicular, cycle and pedestrian access;
  • be of an appropriate scale not to have an adverse impact on environmental or heritage assets and the character and appearance of the surrounding area;
  • not conflict with the objectives of Green Belt designation;
  • not be located in areas at flood risk; and
  • be designed in accordance with Government's Good Practice guidance.