Project launched to boost Traveler pitches – as nearly 3,000 caravans were counted on unauthorized sites this year

Nearly 3,000 caravans have been counted at unauthorized sites across England this year – as campaigners fight to increase the supply of sites for gypsies and travellers. Figures from the Department of Leveling, Housing and Communities show that in January, 515 caravans were on land not owned by Travellers, and another 2,377 were on sites they owned – but for which they did not have a building permit.

This is 32 more than was counted at all unauthorized sites during the same period in 2020. In total, including at authorized sites, there were 24,371 caravans reported at the count date of January 2022 – 658 (3%) more than there were in January 2020.

This increase is largely explained by an increase in the number of private caravans with permanent planning permission, which has resulted in an increase in authorized caravans despite a drop in the number of socially rented caravans. Some 14,786 caravans were counted on authorized private pitches, an increase of 6% compared to 13,983 in January 2020.

This more than offset the 3% drop in caravans on social rental sites, from 6,870 in January 2020 to 6,693 at last count. Overall, in January, around one in eight caravans (12%) were on unauthorized sites and 88% on authorized sites.

It comes as the charity Friends, Families and Travelers (FFT) launches the ‘Oak Project’, a partnership to increase the supply of sites across England based on the needs of Gypsies and Travellers, funded by the Oak Foundation. The three-year partnership, launched on June 16, aims to improve understanding of traveler accommodation planning policy and how issues can be addressed; encourage the construction of more traveler sites; and build the capacity of Gypsy, Roma and Traveler communities to advocate for change in planning practices and policies.

Currently, according to the FFT, an unfavorable planning system and a “chronic lack of provision of suitable sites” means that around 10,000 people live on land without permission. It follows an FFT report released last year which found that at least 1,696 households were on waiting lists for pitches on traveler sites in England, with just 101 pitches available in the whole of England. countries (permanent and transit).

Speaking about the partnership, Michelle Gavin, Business Development Manager at FFT, said: “Project Oak presents a great opportunity to bring together key stakeholders and bridge the gap between Gypsies, Roma, Traveler civil society. and housing providers.

“Through the Oak Foundation, this three-year partnership will help improve the supply of and access to affordable housing for Gypsy and Traveler families.”

Boris Worrall, Managing Director of Rooftop Group and Chairman of the National Policy Advisory Panel on Gypsy and Traveler Housing, said: “There is a huge shortage of social housing for the Gypsy and Traveler communities and the Oak project represents a unique opportunity. to build on the progress made in recent years. years to involve more housing councils and associations in providing high quality housing for individuals and families of Roma, Gypsies and Irish Travellers.

“Everyone needs a safe, secure and sustainable place to call home and this partnership will provide the support, guidance and encouragement needed to meet the challenge ahead.”

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