Eleanor Laing welcomes planning legislation change which targets gypsy and traveller sites and protects the green belt

New Government legislation which strengthens the protection of the Green Belt and targets illegal traveller sites has been welcomed by Epping Forest MP Eleanor Laing.

The new guidance to strengthen protection of the Green Belt and open countryside is included in new planning guidance on traveller sites, separate to the National Planning Policy Framework which was published on Thursday.

The new planning regime abolishes top-down regional targets for traveller sites leaving councils to plan for traveller site provision in a locally-led way.  Methodology will be a matter for local discretion.

The guidance introduces clear and unambiguous statements that “traveller sites (temporary or permanent) in the Green Belt are inappropriate development” and “local planning authorities should strictly limit new traveller site development in open countryside”.

Mrs Laing said: “In Epping Forest we have many areas of countryside which are within the Green Belt and it is vitally important that these green areas remain just that.

“We all appreciate that there is a need for development but there is a place for new buildings and our green and pleasant countryside should not be open to a constant threat of development.”

Mrs Laing added: “It is also very good news that people in Epping Forest will not face the constant worry that traveller sites could crop up near their homes overnight.”

The Government has said the planning guidance will help councils in planning enforcement cases against unauthorised development.

In addition, the Government is taking measures to support councils in providing suitable, authorised traveller sites by providing £60m of grant funding for traveller sites over the Spending Review period while the New Homes Bonus provides a further incentive for authorised site provision.