Last updated: 5th July 2013
Section 225 of the Housing Act 2004 (the Act) places a duty on local housing authorities to undertake regular assessments of the accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers either living in, or resorting to their area, under the Local Housing Needs Assessment process set out in Section 8 of the Housing Act 1985. The Act also requires local housing authorities to include the needs of Gypsies and Travellers in any housing strategy they produce in line with section 87 of the Local Government Act 2003 and to take any such strategy in to account in exercising their functions.
Section 225(5)(a) provides that the term Gypsies and Travellers has the meaning given by regulations made by the appropriate national authority. In relation to England the appropriate national authority is the Secretary of State and this power is being exercised by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
The definition of Gypsies and Travellers as referred to at Section 225(5)(a) of the Act is that set out for the purposes of planning by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, previously being that set out in Circulars 01/2006 (Gypsies and Travellers) and 04/2007 (Travelling Showpeople). Those Circulars were replaced with the national planning guidance Planning Policy for Traveller Sites in 2012.
The national planning guidance set out in Planning Policy for Traveller Sites is to be read alongside the general policies of the National Planning Policy Framework. The guidance places a requirement on local authorities to set pitch targets for Gypsies and Travellers and plot targets for Travelling Showpeople which address the likely permanent and transit site accommodation needs of their area. To set those pitch and plot targets local authorities should prepare and maintain an up-to-date understanding of accommodation need using a robust evidence base.
In addition to setting pitch targets local authorities are required to identify a supply of specific deliverable sites, sufficient to provide five years’ worth of sites against the locally set targets. There is also a requirement to plan for a further 10 years’ supply of sites.
Local authorities have a duty under the Equality Act to actively seek to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and promote good race relations.
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