Planning Aid England has provided support and advice to Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, who have often faced challenges accessing the right support to engage with planning issues.
Our volunteer, John Alcock, has over many years been involved in a lot of casework supporting Gypsy and Traveller families. He’s picked out 3 cases that he found particularly rewarding.
John has supported families to make planning applications – one was for a site in the South Downs which had been long-established but needed planning permission. He liaised with the relevant local authorities and Traveller relations team, acting as an independent agent for the application on a voluntary basis…. ‘I kept in touch with them for 2 years and by 2020 they had an application ready for submission…’ A long process, but one John considers was rewarding and worthwhile.
Another south coast site had been given the green light as a designated site for Gypsy and Traveller use, but required a lot of additional work, including a new access. John has represented the family, who have now been offered the land for sale. He’s continuing to advise as and when needed.
John’s casework has also involved advising from a slightly different perspective, ensuring that G&T communities can represent themselves when given the opportunity through a planning consultation. John recalls a site in Surrey was being expanded: ‘I was asked to help the existing residents, who were not literate, submit an objection to the planning application. They had gained acceptance to their presence after 30 years of occupation and they feared … new arrivals would raise objections from other residents ….’
For further information about the support available for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, an excellent resource is Friends, Families and Travellers (gypsy-traveller.org)