Thursday, September 22, 2011

Planning changes 'will make gipsy camps easier'

Gipsies and travellers could find it easier to set up legal camps under the Government’s proposed changes to planning rules, campaigners warn.

Until now, gipsy and traveller groups tend to buy land, move in illegally and then apply for retrospective planning permission for any homes built there. However, experts say that changes to planning rules in the draft National Planning Policy Framework open a new legal route that will allow gipsies and travellers to settle on old factory sites and quarries in the green belt.

Ministers disputed the claims last night, insisting that separate guidance enhanced protection of the countryside.

Ministers are pushing through plans to reduce more than 1,000 pages of planning regulations to just 52 pages.

The framework writes into the rules a new “presumption in favour of sustainable development”.

Andy Boddington, an environmental campaigner, said the change to the planning rules “opens a legal route for gipsy and traveller sites in the green belt”. more