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Planning

Currently the local and regional planning and accommodation needs of travelling showmen are not being adequately met. Of the 41 North West local authorities, all allow for fun fairs to take place within their borough. Yet well over half of these local authorities fail to provide any accommodation whatsoever for showmen when the fair is off the road.

Those showmen’s combined living, vehicle and equipment sites that do exist, often referred to as “yards”, are also spread disproportionately, concentrated in just a few busy urban centres. The mixed-use nature of these sites means vehicle over-crowding can often have a detrimental effect on the availability of residential space for families. Many showmen’s families would prefer smaller family-oriented sites, more evenly spread across the region.

According to the “The Accommodation Situation of Showmen in the North West” report, commissioned by the Lancashire, Cheshire & North Wales Section from Dr Colm Power in 2007:

“In simple terms, an acre of land can accommodate an extended family of 10 Showmen’s homes including room for associated vehicles and equipment. If each of the 41 local authorities in the Region identified 1 acre of land for Showmen’s use, in fairness starting with the 26 local authorities who currently have no provision whatsoever, this would ultimately equate to 410 pitches including equipment and storage. This simple expedient would adequately address Showmen’s accommodation needs in the Northwest for the next 15-20 years (based on interviews with Showmen, 2006/7).”

The report also contains detailed statistical breakdowns of all relevant populations and site details across the North West and highlights travelling showmen’s needs in relevant social, political and legal contexts. It also gives key recommendations for policy makers and planners. In relation to showmen’s cultural and accommodation aspirations, the report states that: “It is the wish of all working Showmen to own at least their own permanent pitch on which to winter“

Government planning guidance for both planning authorities and showmen is provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG). A review of planning procedures relating to showmen’s sites was conducted for the CLG in 2007, due to the lack of positive impact the previous planning circular (22/91) had on encouraging local authorities to allow the development of showmen’s sites. Indeed, progress has been so poor to date that the CLG’s “Consultation on revised planning guidance in relation to Travelling Showpeople” (January 2007) states unequivocally that: “…evidence shows that the advice set out in Circular 22/91 has failed to deliver adequate sites for travelling showpeople.”

At national level, the Showmen’s Guild of Great Britain has produced a best practice advice document on the provision of showmen’s permanent parking sites, and this may be downloaded here.

Central government planning policy relevant to showmen’s needs

The resultant government guidance recommends easing planning restrictions on the building of showmen’s sites, while proactively encouraging planning authorities to grant permission when there is obvious need. Click on the links below to view and/or download the government’s specific planning advice with regard to planning applications from showmen (Circular 04/2007) and two other documents relevant to showmen’s planning needs.

Circular 04/2007 “Planning for Travelling Showpeople”, Communities & Local Government, August 2007.

Circular 01/2006 “Planning for Gypsy & Traveller Caravan Sites” ODPM, February 2006.

“Preparing Regional Spatial Strategy reviews on Gypsies and Travellers by regional planning bodies”, Communities & Local Government, March 2007.

Consultation on 285 proposed additional plots for the region up to 2016

The Regional Spatial Strategy Partial Review sets out new policies on accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Show people, including plot and pitch numbers by Local Authority area. This is your chance to have your say on the proposals with consultation ending on midday on 19th of October.

The accommodation requirements have been identified following extensive work by 4NW( Regional Leaders Forum) working with local authorities on GTAA’s and with gypsy and traveller and travelling showpeople communities to inform accommodation requirements and distribution.

Details of the GTAAs, proposed policies and proposed accommodation requirements and how to respond are at www.northwestplanpartialreview.org.uk or for assistance contact panelsecretary@gonw.gsi.gov.uk


The policies and accommodation requirements will be considered by an independent Panel at an Examination in Public( March 2010), after a further consultation the Partial Review will be published in December 2010 and will then form part of the Statutory Development Plan with which Local Development Frameworks will need to conform.

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