Lack of Gypsy sites makes a future Dale Farm 'inevitable'

The demand for new Traveller pitches is being badly underestimated, research reveals

The Government is underestimating the demand for new Gypsy and Traveller sites, exacerbating the already dire shortage and making "a future Dale Farm inevitable", according to research to be published this week.

In January, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) announced grants of £47m for 170 improved and 620 new pitches in a number of schemes across the country.

But according to information gathered from local planning departments and housing associations, fewer than 300 new pitches are likely to be built before 2015, when it is feared the funding will be withdrawn.

Eric Pickles, the Communities and Local Government Secretary, has claimed that the HCA funding will reduce the number of unauthorised Traveller sites, which he says create tensions between Travellers and the settled community. But Michael Hargreaves, a planning expert and author of the research, said Mr Pickles was "either misinformed about the funding scheme, or is being disingenuous".

He added: "The mass eviction at Dale Farm in Essex was a direct result of the dire shortage of authorised pitches and created incredible tensions between the Traveller and settled communities. Yet the HCA funding programme, as it stands, can only make a future Dale Farm inevitable."

The research, due to be presented on Thursday at a conference attended by ministers from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), shows more than 80 per cent of local authorities that have received funding for proposed schemes do not have planning permission, which can often be difficult to push through in the face of local opposition.

The take-up of funding has been patchy. The report found that Essex, Kent, Cambridgeshire, Surrey and Hertfordshire had the most Gypsies and Travellers, but had been awarded only 4 per cent of the funding between them.

"There is a striking mismatch between need and where the money has gone," said Mr Hargreaves. "The Midlands, South-west, Yorkshire and the North-east have done reasonably well, but there have been few applications from London, the East and South-east, and much of the North-west."

A DCLG spokesman said: "Ministers are clear that the previous top-down targets for Traveller sites forced councils to encroach on the Green Belt, seriously harming community relations, leading to an increase in the number of unauthorised sites and meaning site funding was allocated but often left unspent.

"That's why we've allocated £47m towards the building of 620 new pitches, with more funding to follow. Councils will also get powerful financial benefits for building authorised sites that have the backing of the local community, through the New Homes Bonus."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Network Support Engineer - Hosted Telecommunications

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for a Ne...

Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor / Partner - Cheltenham

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: A very rare high level opportunity with a fir...

Recruitment Genius: IT Manager

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This distributor of electronics...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Assistant

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client has a number of different bus...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower