‘Local’ travellers will be given priority for new permanent pitches at the Horsdean site under a policy set to be approved next week.
Brighton and Hove City Council wants to build 12 new pitches at Horsdean and is now drawing up guidelines as to how they should be allocated.
They will initially be offered as introductory 12-month tenancies, and allocated to those households deemed most in need of a permanent pitch – and points will be weighted towards ‘locally known’ ethnic travellers.
The report says: “”It is likely that all 12 of these families will be people who frequently have to encamp in parks and open spaces, which causes a great deal of community tension.
“The removal of 12 households from unauthorised encampments around the city should assist the council in meeting its duty to promote better community relations.”
It adds: ” It will also enable other services such as education and health to work with and health improve outcomes and life chances for those traveller families who have lived in the city for many years and who have always been homeless.”
Under the policy, ‘locally known’ travellers are those who have lived in the city for three out of the past five years.
They must also have a provable cultural and historical link to the traveller lifestyle, rather than having chosen it as a lifestyle choice or being homeless.
The policy will also give priority according to health and educational needs and the number of children and older people in each household. References are also required and will be taken into consideration.
The council consulted the Traveller Women’s Group when drawing up the policy. One point which they disagreed with was the limitation to applicants over 18 years, as some travellers marry and start a family when younger than this.
But the policy has kept this requirement as it is a legal requirement that tenancies are only available to people aged 18 and up.
The policy is being put before the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee on Tuesday. If approved, a waiting list for permanent pitches will be opened from 1 November this year. A tenancy policy is also being drawn up.
The Horsdean site already has 21 transit pitches, which allow a maximum stay of 12 weeks.
The council secured planning permission for the site from the South Downs National Park Authority in February this year. The plans were subsequently called in by the Government, but the council was given the final green light to build the site in June.