Tory MP secures first reading of anti-traveller site bill
- From Planning magazine (pay site so text pasted below)
By MichaelDonnelly Wednesday, 10 July 2013
A Tory MP has secured a first reading for a private members bill which aims to scrap planning regulations which ensure councils identify land for Gypsy and Traveller sites.
Philip Hollobone, the MP for Kettering, secured a first reading for the Planning Regulations (Removal of Provisions in Respect of Gypsies and Travellers) Bill in the House of Commons yesterday.
Hollobone said that the purpose of the Bill was to remove "any special provision for Gypsies and Travellers from the national planning regulations" because his constituents were "undergoing a consultation on where in the borough up to 37 Gypsy and Traveller pitches should be sited by the year 2031".
He said: "It is no exaggeration to say that many of my constituents have been brought to tears by some of the site proposals. I also have the privilege to be a member of Kettering Borough Council, which, as the local planning authority, is doing its best within the national planning guidelines to undertake the consultation in the most effective way possible.
"However, the council has to follow national planning regulations and, by law, it has to identify up to 37 pitches. It has no choice in the matter. It does have some choice about where in the borough they should be located, but it must find those sites, and some of the proposals have been completely outrageous".
The MP said the issue was about fairness for all residents. He said: "Why should one category of person be treated differently from anyone else under the planning regulations? If one of my constituents from the settled community wanted to establish a mobile home in the middle of a green field in the open countryside, they would not be allowed to do so. However, if a Gypsy, Traveller or travelling showperson — the other term used in the planning documentation — wanted to do so, that would be permissible under the current planning regulations".
"Kettering Borough Council goes out of its way to do its best to provide affordable homes for as many as possible and over the last nine or 10 years it has delivered a total of almost 1,300 social rent and intermediate homes.
"Kettering Borough Council cares about how its local community is housed. Having to put within its planning system, however, sites for Gypsies and Travellers above or at a higher priority than anyone else is asking the council to do too much".
Hollobone added that he congratulated local government minister Brandon Lewis on the scrapping lastweek of equality and diversity in planning guidance, saying it was "186 pages of Whitehall guff that has done tremendous damage to local communities, including mine in the borough of Kettering".
The Bill will be read a second time on Friday 8 November.
Kettering Borough Council's Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation - Options Consultation began on 3 June and runs until 15 July. More details can be found here.