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Changes to rules on traveller sites

Planning rules which councils claim have forced them to develop traveller sites on open countryside are to be torn up, it has been announced.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is to revoke the "planning circulars" issued by the former Labour government which set out strict requirements for town halls on the provision of land for gypsies.

He is also looking at ways of increasing local authority powers to tackle unauthorised encampments, which are a source of major community tensions in some areas.

At the same time, however, councils are to be offered financial incentives for developing authorised sites where possible.

As the Government seeks to enhance the provision of traveller sites, they will be included in a new homes bonus scheme under which councils will be paid for properties they allow to be built in their area.

Travellers on official sites are also to be given the same rights and responsibilities as residents of other mobile home sites so that they have greater protection against eviction.

Mr Pickles said: "Unauthorised developments have created tensions between travellers and the settled population. We want to redress the balance and put fairness back into communities.

"Like the rest of the population, the majority of travellers are law-abiding citizens and they should have the same chance of having a safe place to live and bring up their children.

"These changes will put travellers who play by the rules on an equal footing. But at the same time, we will not sit back and allow people to bypass the planning rules that everyone else has to abide by.

"That's why we will strengthen the powers that councils have to enforce against breaches of planning rules and tackle the abuse of the planning system."


From Belfast Telegraph