Gypsies and travellers in Leeds are being urged to “get your applications in now” to gain planning consent for new private pitches.
The call to action by Leeds Gypsy and Traveller Exchange (GATE) comes after Leeds City Council was told by a Government inspector to amend its Core Strategy’s traveller policy, which states the unmet need for authorised traveller sites in the city.
The council has now accepted there is a need for 62 more pitches by March 2028, including 25 new council-run pitches, nine temporary negotiated stopping sites and 28 privately run pitches – prompting Leeds GATE to urge travelling landowners that “the time to act is very much now”.
New guidance in the Core Strategy states new sites should contain no more than 15 pitches each and should be close to health and education services as well as public transport links.
Helen Jones, chief executive officer of Leeds GATE, said: “Now traveller people who do put their hands in their pockets can get more assurance of success if the application is right.”
Ms Jones hopes the council will now advise would-be traveller site developers more. She said: “It will encourage small family-sized sites that aren’t going to overwhelm local communities.”
The council recently refused a private traveller plan for pitches at Sandon Mount, in Hunslet, while plans for a 35-pitch private site near Morley Train Station are being considered. The results of an inquiry into the council’s £1m expansion for Cottingley Springs are soon to be revealed.
Coun Peter Gruen, the council’s lead member for planning, said: “The council will continue to look at every application very carefully...in coming to a considered view in each case.” He said the council aims to meet the needs of Leeds travellers while reducing unauthorised camps.