Page last updated at 10:36 GMT, Sunday, 21 December 2008

Panel backs traveller sites plan

Planning inspectors have backed a draft policy which would require every local authority in the East to plan for more Gypsy and traveller pitches.

The East of England Regional Assembly (EERA) recommended all but two authorities plan for 15 extra pitches.

The independent panel of inspectors has now supported the proposal in a report.

In total, they recommended an extra 1,237 pitches by 2011, 50 more than the EERA's draft policy. The Secretary of State will now consider the report.

Local authorities are responsible for planning authorised traveller pitches.

'Range of views'

The inspectors recommended every local authority plan for at least 15 additional residential pitches by 2011, except Stevenage and Watford, in Hertfordshire, which should plan for at least 10 extra pitches.

They also make recommendations for an additional 160 transit pitches and 184 plots for travelling show people.

The inspectors recommended an increase in residential pitches from EERA's draft policy in Braintree, Colchester, Uttlesford, Dacorum, East Hertfordshire, South Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Peterborough, St. Edmundsbury, Bedford, Mid-Bedfordshire and South Bedfordshire.

They recommended a decrease in pitches from the draft policy in Basildon, Epping Forest, Watford, St Albans and Stevenage.

Councillor Derrick Ashley, chairman of EERA's regional planning panel, said: "The collective view expressed by local authorities across the region was that every local authority should make some minimal provision for residential Gypsy and traveller pitches.

"This principle has now been supported by planning inspectors following their consideration of the wide range of views presented to them at the recent public examination."

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