Fair and Equal Treatment of Travellers – High Court Ruling

caravansTraveller encampments are not always popular with neighbouring landowners, but one High Court case has underlined the overarching aim of planning policy that travellers should be fairly and equally treated and their traditionally nomadic way of life respected.

A local authority had granted planning consent for an emergency roadside stopping point for up to 12 caravans despite a chorus of more than 260 objections from local residents. The decision was reached in the context of a lack of transit sites in the county, resulting in a proliferation of more than 90 unauthorised encampments.

In mounting a judicial review challenge to the permission, one resident argued that, in line with central government policy in respect of traveller sites, the council was obliged to consider the possibility of alternative sites being granted planning consent for use as emergency stopping places but had failed to do so.

In rejecting that argument, however, the Court found that, on a true interpretation of the relevant policy, the council had only to consider whether an alternative site was immediately available, in the sense of already having planning permission. There was, in fact, no other transit site with planning permission in the county.

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