Interim Gypsy/Traveller site design guide

Guide to assist public sector providers of Gypsy/Traveller sites to design and provide high quality accommodation that meets their needs.

1. Introduction

This Site Design Guide has been developed under the Gypsy/Traveller Action Plan, Improving the Lives of Gypsy/Travellers: 2019-2021, published jointly by the Scottish Government and COSLA in October 2019, which includes a commitment to more and better accommodation for Gypsy/Travellers.

In March 2021, the Scottish Government published Housing to 2040 which sets out a vision for housing in Scotland to 2040 and a route map to get there. It aims to deliver our vision for everyone to have a safe, good quality and affordable home that meets their needs in the place they want to be. Housing to 2040 announced the Gypsy/Traveller Accommodation Fund, up to £20 million of capital funding is available to local authorities over five years from 2021 to 2026. This Site Design Guide has been developed to sit alongside the funding programme, setting the direction for newly built or refurbished accommodation.

1.1 A Message from Community Members

Throughout the summer of 2021 we spoke to Gypsy/Travellers, through the MECOPP Women's Voices Project and Article 12. This section summarises some of the views expressed during those conversations. We have also added these views as quotes throughout the Site Design Guide.

Gypsy/Traveller communities are not all the same. Different people will want different things so it is very important to listen to what the residents on a site are telling you they need. While not all the same, family is very important to Gypsy/Travellers and sites should be designed with family life at the heart of them. Sites and pitch sizes need to meet the needs of different and growing families.

"Families need space to grow. Enough sites and pitches are needed so that family members can live alongside each other." Gypsy/Traveller, Consultation Event, July 2021

Like the settled community, Gypsy/Travellers want safe and warm homes where they can live and raise their families. While Gypsy/Traveller sites provide a different type of home to settled housing, they should still be of a good standard and meet the needs of the people living there.

"We are not asking for anything more than the settled community, just the same – a decent place to live." Gypsy/Traveller, Consultation Event, August 2021

1.2 Purpose of the Site Design Guide

The purpose of the Site Design Guide is to assist public sector providers of Gypsy/Traveller sites to design and provide high quality accommodation for Gypsy/Travellers that meets their needs. In conjunction with the Gypsy/Traveller Accommodation Fund, the Site Design Guide is intended to help meet the following outcomes for Gypsy/Traveller accommodation:

  • More accommodation - enough sites/pitches to meet the established needs of Gypsy/Traveller communities;
  • Accommodation in suitable locations, taking into account place making principles including, for example, access to local services;
  • Sites that provide pleasant places to live and include attractive outdoor space, communal facilities and appropriate facilities, including for children and young people;
  • A mix of accommodation with layout and facilities that meet the needs of residents and provides for different family sizes and preferences and to allow for movement to different accommodation on the same site if circumstances change;
  • Accommodation built to a high standard, in line with other public housing and relevant principles set out in Housing to 2040;
  • Accommodation that is durable, sustainable, flexible, safe, secure, digitally connected, warm and economic to run and at a level of rent that represents value for money for residents;
  • Accommodation that meets accessibility standards and provides for a range of needs, including families with members who are elderly, disabled or have caring responsivities;
  • Improved satisfaction with accommodation and more meaningful engagement with Gypsy/Traveller communities;
  • Additional transit provision, where needed, to facilitate travelling and foster good relations with the settled community.

1.3 Gypsy/Traveller Accommodation Fund

The Scottish Government and COSLA Leaders have agreed that the Fund should initially be focussed on a number of demonstration projects that can establish examples of model sites. These first projects will allow us to take a flexible approach, trialling the Site Design Guide, exploring what good quality Gypsy/Traveller accommodation that reflects Housing to 2040 principles looks like, and seeking cost effective ways of delivering it. This approach will be reviewed in later years of the Fund. More information on the Fund can be found on the Scottish Government website or by emailing

1.4 Development of the Site Design Guide

Work under Improving the Lives of Gypsy/Travellers: 2019-21, identified the need for a Site Design Guide for new sites or major refurbishment of existing sites. The drive was to set a high quality standard for the future, so that the Minimum Standards for Gypsy/Traveller accommodation, published in 2015, were not seen as the standard for new accommodation.

The Site Design Guide has been developed using current published information and information gathered from Gypsy/Traveller communities on their accommodation needs and preferences, with the input of policy leads and stakeholders. An online survey gathered the views of Gypsy/Travellers to support the development of the Site Design Guide from December 2020 – March 2021. We have referenced the results of the survey and included feedback from discussions with members of Gypsy/Traveller communities throughout the Site Design Guide.

The Scottish Government would like to thank all members of Gypsy/Traveller communities who contributed to the development of the Site Design Guide through completing the online survey or by giving their time to discuss their views with us.

The Site Design Guide seeks to:

  • Establish parity with the most relevant standards for the settled community and continue to maintain parity going forward e.g. the standards expected in social housing under the Affordable Housing Supply Programme (AHSP).
  • Link to existing standards where possible but select and combine most relevant standards if needed.
  • Stretch and future proof, where there is a need to do this to meet the outcomes and to ensure that Gypsy/Traveller accommodation develops in line with the principles in Housing to 2040.
  • Support the design process so that Gypsy/Traveller sites meet the needs and aspirations of residents as closely as possible.

1.5 Meeting the Needs of Gypsy/Travellers

Sites are used by Gypsy/Traveller communities in different ways. Some have long standing residents, perhaps only leaving the site to travel in the summer season while on others, families tend to stay for a shorter period. Some may only be open during the summer season or have mixed patterns of use. This Site Design Guide does not offer a single site design to meet the needs of Gypsy/Travellers. It sets out key considerations for the design process. These may need to be prioritised in consultation with residents and community members, e.g. depending on the space available or other limitations on the site. The demonstration projects will help to explore the costs attached to modern site development and how local authorities balance available resources and the priorities of Gypsy/Traveller communities. It also includes some forward looking standards to ensure that newly built or renovated sites offer high quality, robust accommodation that helps deliver on the objectives set out in Housing to 2040.

1.6 Terminology

In this Site Design Guide we have used the following terms. Please note this section defines these terms for the purposes of this document, and is not (and is not intended to be) a reference for how these terms are used in legislation, other guidance or by local authorities and others.

Amenity Block – permanent building on a pitch that usually provides bathroom, kitchen and storage facilities. Some amenity blocks will also provide some living space, for example a day room. There is one amenity block per pitch and facilities are not shared.

Caravan – a caravan that the resident uses to provide their sleeping accommodation. This is provided by the resident and not the site provider.

Residential Mobile Home – a residential mobile home that someone lives in as their residence, this is sometimes referred to as a park home or a chalet. This may be provided by the site provider or may be installed on a pitch by a resident by agreement.

Permanent Site – sites that are open all year round and provide long term accommodation for Gypsy/Travellers. While some residents may travel during the summer months, they retain their pitch and occupancy agreement and return to the site following the period of travel. Some residents stay on the same site for many years while others will stay for shorter periods.

Seasonal Site – sites that are open for part of the year. Generally residents travel to and stay on the site for the period of time that it is open.

Transit Site – sites that are open all year round to provide access to facilities while people are travelling. People tend to stay on the site for much shorter periods of time.



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