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Policy H16 Gypsy and Traveller accommodation


  1. Boroughs should plan to meet the identified need for permanent Gypsy and Traveller pitches.
  2. As of the start of this Plan period, boroughs should use the following definition of ‘Gypsies and Travellers’ as a basis for assessing need: People with a cultural tradition of nomadism, or living in a caravan, whatever their race or origin, including:
    1. those who are currently travelling or living in a caravan
    2. those who currently live in bricks and mortar dwelling households whose existing accommodation is unsuitable for them by virtue of their cultural preference not to live in bricks and mortar accommodation
    3. those who, on grounds of their own or their family’s or dependants’ educational or health needs or old age, have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently.
  3. Boroughs that have not undertaken a needs assessment since 2008 should either:
    1. undertake a Gypsy and Traveller accommodation needs assessment within the first two years of this Plan period (based on the definition set out above); or
    2. use the midpoint figure of need in Table 10 of GLA Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Topic Paper 2017 as identified need for pitches (over the next 10 years) until a needs assessment is undertaken as part of their Development Plan review process.
  4. Boroughs that have undertaken a needs assessment since 2008 should update this (based on the definition set out above) as part of their Development Plan review process.
  5. Boroughs should undertake an audit of existing pitches and sites, identifying:
    1. areas of overcrowding
    2. areas of potential extra capacity within existing sites
    3. pitches in need of refurbishment.
  6. Boroughs should plan to address issues identified in the audits.
  7. F          Boroughs should actively plan to protect existing Gypsy and Traveller accommodation capacity, and this should be taken into account when considering new residential developments to ensure inclusive, balanced and cohesive communities are created.

Estimates show there are around 30,000 Gypsies and Travellers in London[59]. Their culture and traditions have developed through a nomadic way of life over centuries, and although many Gypsies and Travellers try to maintain this, the lack of pitches on local authority sites often presents a barrier to this. Around 85 per cent of Gypsy and Traveller families in London have been forced to live in housing, or on roadside encampments due to overcrowding, or an unsuitability, or lack of availability of, pitches. The lack of access to secure accommodation and suitable living environments has far-reaching implications for their physical and mental health, welfare, education, employment and access to the wider opportunities London has to offer.


In this Plan, the Mayor has adopted a new definition for Gypsies and Travellers. This is due to concerns that the existing Government planning definition does not recognise many Gypsies and Travellers, for example:

  • Gypsies and Travellers who have ceased to travel permanently due to; a lack of available permanent pitches, transit sites or stopping places; frequent enforcement action (evictions), or lack of opportunities and barriers to work
  • Gypsies and Travellers who live in (bricks and mortar) housing due to the lack of sufficient, affordable and good quality caravan site provision; or
  • due to their own or their family’s or dependants’ educational or health needs or old age. This is most likely to affect Gypsies and Travellers who face multiple and intersecting inequalities (for example older people, disabled Gypsies and Travellers, women and single mothers).

For these groups, it is often very difficult or impossible to demonstrate that they would have immediate plans to travel for work in the future (as required by the current Government planning definition) because there are no viable options or because doing so would have a significant impact on their health, wellbeing and security of income.

This often results in Gypsies and Travellers not being recognised or counted in needs assessments, with many needs assessments identifying zero need. This has a direct impact on the housing options available to Gypsies and Travellers, their ability to retain their cultural status and identity, and can lead to greater inequalities in terms of access to safe and secure accommodation, health care and education.

Insufficient pitch provision can also lead to a rise in unauthorised encampments, with implications for the health and wellbeing of Gypsies and Travellers, community cohesion and costs for boroughs.

The new definition should be used within London for the purposes of assessing accommodation need, and auditing and protecting existing sites and pitches.

Boroughs should actively plan for Gypsies and Travellers’ accommodation needs, and should ensure that new sites are well-connected to social infrastructure, health care, education and public transport facilities, and contribute to a wider, inclusive neighbourhood.

To assist boroughs in meeting identified need, Mayoral funding will be available through the Homes for Londoners 2016-21 Affordable Homes Programme for the provision of new pitches, on a single or multi-borough basis, and for refurbishment of existing pitches identified via an audit of existing pitches.

If existing pitches have to be re-located or re-provided within a borough, the new provision should take into account existing family or community groupings and avoid splitting these up wherever possible. The community should be involved in the planning of any unavoidable re-locations to ensure satisfactory solutions are achieved.

Where new pitches are proposed, the pitch and site layouts and the design of service blocks should be accessible and adaptable to ensure they are suitable for a range of users including disabled and older people, and families with young children.