Travellers' housing needs under scrutiny

SHAUN LOWTHORPE The housing needs of the region's gipsy and traveller communities are to be examined in a joint research project commissioned by the East of England Regional Assembly (Eera) and the Department of Communities and Local Government.

SHAUN LOWTHORPE

The housing needs of the region's gipsy and traveller communities are to be examined in a joint research project commissioned by the East of England Regional Assembly (Eera) and the Department of Communities and Local Government.

The two-stage study by the Universities of Birmingham, Salford and Sheffield Hallam is part of a wider research project which is expected to be completed in January.

According to government figures published in January this year, in the East of England there are:

4,044 caravans

1,370 caravans on local authority gypsy and traveller sites

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1,675 caravans on private sites with planning permission

851 caravans on sites on land owned by gypsies and travellers but without planning permission

148 caravans on sites on land not owned by gypsies and travellers and without planning permission

Research will examine future gypsy and traveller population trends in the East of England.

The findings, which will cost the region £15,000 to produce, will help the assembly develop proposals for the number of caravan pitches required in the region as part of a review of the draft East of England Plan.

A public consultation on the options will take place in Spring and the responses will be used by Eera to propose the number of sites required for each local authority area.

Plans will then be subject to further public consultation before being finally determined by the government in 2009.

John Reynolds, chairman of the assembly's regional planning panel, said: “The research project will, for the first time, provide a tool to evaluate gipsy and traveller accommodation need assessments across the East of England and help identify where there may be gaps in the provision of caravan pitches.”

Members of the planning panel will hear tomorrow how the research will be carried out during a meeting in Cambridge.