1 Executive Summary
1.1 This report presents findings from a study collating data on Gypsy/Traveller
sites in Scotland. The study has identified a total of 54 Gypsy/Traveller sites across Scotland, comprising 29 public and 25 private sites. The 54 sites provide a total of
613 pitches, the majority of these are let on a permanent basis. In addition to site accommodation, a total of 406 locations have been used for unauthorised Gypsy/ Traveller encampments over the last 3 years. Further detail on site provision and encampment activity is provided below.
Public Gypsy/Traveller sites in Scotland
1.2 Data returns identify a total of 29 public Gypsy/Traveller sites across Scotland, providing a total of 397 active pitches. This represents a reduction in public site provision of 62 pitches over the last ten years (a fall of -14% since 2008), although the supply of active pitches is largely unchanged since 2009.
1.3 A total of 20 local authorities/RSLs provide one or more public Gypsy/Traveller sites; the remaining 12 local authority areas do not have any public site provision. Fife, Highland and Aberdeenshire report the largest site provision, and together account for nearly a third of all public site pitches.
1.4 A total of 351 pitches are currently let, equivalent to an occupancy rate of 88%. Levels of site occupancy vary significantly across local authority areas; 16 of the 29 sites report 100% occupancy, while 5 sites report occupancy of less than 70%.
1.5 The 351 occupied pitches suggests that the 2011 Census may have under-counted Gypsy/Travellers living on public sites; the Census identified 259 Gypsy/ Traveller households living in caravan or mobile accommodation. Historical data on the ratio between occupied pitches and households suggests the 2011 Census may have under-counted households on public Gypsy/Traveller sites by 8-18% of the total.
1.6 Twelve of the 19 local authorities with public sites reported current waiting list demand and/or having turned away households in the last year who were looking for site accommodation. A total of 90 households are currently registered on public site waiting lists, and 9 households had been turned away in the last year.
Private Gypsy/Traveller sites in Scotland
1.7 Local authority returns identify a total of 25 active private Gypsy/Traveller sites across Scotland, providing a total of 216 pitches. This represents a small increase from the 22 private sites reported by the last Twice-Yearly Count in 2009.
1.8 Active private Gypsy/Traveller sites are located across 9 local authority areas with Falkirk, Fife, Aberdeenshire and Perth & Kinross reporting the largest supply; these areas together account for more than 80% of all private site pitches. Most of the local authority areas with private site provision are relatively rural in nature, with the majority of private site provision in the centre and east of Scotland.
Planning applications for private Gypsy/Traveller sites
1.9 The study has identified a total of 88 planning applications for private Gypsy/Traveller sites across Scotland, the majority of these were received between 2005 and 2018.
1.10 Seventeen local authorities record one or more planning applications for Gypsy/Traveller sites; the remaining 15 authorities do not record any applications. Mapping of planning applications sites indicates that the majority are in areas classified as ‘accessible rural’ or ‘remote rural’. Around two thirds of applications are for sites of fewer than 5 pitches including 14 applications for single pitch sites, although several applications have been received for larger sites of 15 or more pitches.
1.11 Of the 88 planning applications, 35 were approved at the initial application stage, 34 were refused and a further 19 were pending or withdrawn. The majority of refused applications proceeded to appeal (29 of 34) and the majority of appeals were approved (18 of 29), equivalent to around half of all proposals refused at the application stage. A total of 53 planning applications for Gypsy/Traveller sites were approved at application or on appeal, equivalent to 60% of all applications recorded.
1.12 Reasons for refusal were published for 28 of the 34 applications which were refused at the application stage. Published notices indicate that reasons for refusal most commonly relate to proposals being contrary to the Local Development Plan and Strategic Development Plan policies, and/or having an adverse impact on the character of the local area. This was most commonly in relation to the impact of proposals on the local natural environment, including reference to a range of specific landscape designations, although some also referred to potential detrimental impact on the amenity enjoyed by neighbouring residents and integration with the built environment.
Unauthorised Gypsy/Traveller encampments
1.13 Local authority returns identify a total of 406 discreet locations across Scotland used for unauthorised Gypsy/Traveller encampments over the last 3 years.
1.14 These locations account for an average of 414 unauthorised encampments per year. This is equivalent to 1.0 encampment per location although activity varies significantly; 67 locations show an average of 2+ encampments per year, including 12 with an average of 5+ encampments per year.
1.15 Unauthorised encampments appear to be more prevalent across some regions than others, most notably in Ayrshire, Fife, Aberdeen City, Aberdeenshire, Moray and the area around and to the north of Inverness. These regions typically report an average of more than 30 unauthorised encampments per year, compared to averages of 15-20 across other parts of Scotland. Mapping of encampment locations also indicates that these are typically in and around small towns and urban areas, with few recorded in areas classified as ‘accessible rural’ or ‘remote rural’.