New Gypsy/Travellers sites
Gypsy/Travellers, like all members of the community, are entitled to have accommodation that meets their needs, culture and lifestyle.
Increasing well managed authorised Gypsy/Travellers sites will help meet the accommodation needs of Gypsy/ Travellers. It will reduce the number of unauthorised encampments and the issues associated with them. It will increase access to health care and education for the Travelling community.
Local authorities have a legal duty to consider the needs of ethnic minorities in their local housing strategies and to meet the accommodation needs of Gypsy/Travellers. A person is legally defined as homeless if their accommodation is a moveable structure, vehicle or vessel designed or adapted for human habitation and there is no where they are entitled or permitted to place it and live in it. Gypsy/Travellers who don’t have access to authorised sites for their caravans are effectively homeless. Unauthorised encampments are set up when Gypsy/Travellers don’t have access to authorised sites.
Potential new Gypsy/Travellers site assessment
Areas of land that could potentially be used as authorised Gypsy/Travellers sites are considered by our Gypsy/Travellers officer group and presented to the Gypsy/Travellers sub-committee. If the sub-committee approve the land for further investigation a site visit and an analysis of site constraints and suitability in planning terms is done.
If, after the analysis, the site is identified as suitable the Gypsy/Travellers sub-committee present a report to councillors asking for approval to submit a planning application. A public meeting may be held before the councillors make a decision, but this isn’t a legal requirement. Consultation with the local community will start if a planning application is submitted for a Gypsy/Travellers site.
If, after the analysis, the site is unsuitable no further investigations will be done.
Cost of new sites
We have funds from the Scottish Government to help develop a new Gypsy/Travellers site. This money has been specifically awarded to develop a new Gypsy/Travellers site. It can’t be allocated for anything else.
We also have some funding to help provide information and advice services to the Gypsy/Travellers community.
Residents on any new authorised Gypsy/Travellers sites would pay for their pitches.
Management of new sites
The management of new sites depends on the level of provision or amenities on the site. Provision could vary from a stopover site to a fully serviced site. If the new site was managed by us or a third party, the level of management is worked out by the services provided.
Proposed Gypsy/Travellers site at Aikey Brae, Old Deer
In October 2016, Aberdeenshire Council lodged a planning application for a 10-pitch Gypsy/Traveller Stopover site at Aikey Brae, Old Deer.
This followed years of searching for suitable areas of land, for developing as Gypsy/ Traveller sites.
On 10 January 2013, Policy & Resources Committee agreed in principle, to the identification of the site at Aikey Brae as a potential Gypsy/Traveller stopover site and instructed officers to submit a report containing outline proposals for the suggested site to Buchan Area Committee in the first instance, prior to consideration by the Gypsy/Traveller Sub-Committee.
Following discussions at Buchan Area Committee, consultation with the local community took place on two occasions, through public meetings held in the local area on 13 May 2013 and 5 February 2014.
Strong feelings from the local community were expressed against the proposal on both occasions.
During the consultation process, a 375 signature petition as well as 11 letters/emails/feedback forms of objection were submitted to Aberdeenshire Council. Three letters of support regarding the proposal were also received.
Taking into consideration the feedback received from the public meetings, a further report was presented to Aberdeenshire Council at its meeting on 24 April 2014. Elected members agreed to take no action (at that time) on the submission of a planning application for the development and management of a seasonal Gypsy/Traveller stopover site at Aikey Brae, Old Deer, and instructed officers to provide a comprehensive strategy for the provision of a number of sites across Aberdeenshire.
On 12 March 2015, Aberdeenshire Council agreed to adopt the Aberdeenshire Gypsy/Traveller Site Provision Strategy. Following approval of the strategy, four areas of land were identified as potentially suitable for Gypsy/Traveller sites which covered North, Central and South Aberdeenshire. A scoring matrix was used to determine the suitability of each of the four sites.
The site at Aikey Brae, Old Deer, scored the highest using the scoring matrix and is the recommended site for developing in North Aberdeenshire.
On 29 September 2016, Aberdeenshire Council agreed to the submission of a planning application for a 10 pitch Gypsy/Traveller Stopover site at Aikey Brae. This also included a request for officers to prepare a report for the Gypsy/Traveller Sub-Committee on options for future management of the site, including third parties.
Gypsy/Travellers site provision strategy
We have developed the Aberdeenshire Gypsy/Travellers site provision strategy. This is a comprehensive, high level strategy for the provision of a number of sites across Aberdeenshire. It sets out the context and indicates that one site should be brought forward for consideration in North, Central and South areas of Aberdeenshire.
If you have any queries about increasing Gypsy/Travellers site provision in Aberdeenshire please contact our Housing service by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01467 534897.