Local development plans – defining Gypsies and Travellers: consultation

A consultation on a proposed definition of ‘Gypsies and Travellers’ for the purpose of local development plan regulations on evidence reports.

Proposed definition for consultation

Using the information gathered from research, a suggested definition is proposed as a starting point for discussion with Gypsy and Traveller communities and other relevant groups. It has been provided to enable feedback and all views and suggestions are welcome.

"For the purposes of section 16B(14) of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1997 (evidence report for preparation of local development plan), "Gypsies and Travellers" means-

a) persons of or from a nomadic cultural tradition, whatever their race or origin, including-

(i) persons who have ceased to travel temporarily or permanently as a result of their own or their family's (including dependants) educational needs, health needs, or old age,

(ii) members of an organised group of travelling show people or circus people (whether or not travelling together as such),

(iii) persons who require the provision of land for temporary or permanent living (including the use of caravans as defined in section 16 of the Caravan Sites Act 1968),


The definition is largely based on the one used in Welsh Housing Legislation (2014). There are some terminology changes to better reflect the characteristics of the Scottish Gypsy and Traveller communities.

The main differences between this definition and some others is the addition of travelling show people and circus people (who are two distinct and separate communities), and the addition of those who have ceased to travel permanently. While in English planning policy for Travellers sites the definition of Gypsies and Travellers exclude travelling Showpeople and circus people, many local authorities recognise these groups and communities.

This definition doesn’t include the aspect that was challenged in England (Gypsies and Travellers who have had to stop travelling permanently due to age or ill health being excluded from the ‘gypsy status’ and no longer allowed to develop Traveller sites). This is to ensure an inclusive approach is taken so that all needs are taken care of. Many Gypsies and Travellers only travel seasonally, or do not travel at all due to a range of reasons, or simply never have. It is important that they can still be able to voice their needs in the planning system.


Creating a justified, accurate and inclusive definition of ‘Gypsies and Travellers’ will help to ensure that these communities have stronger visibility in the planning system. It also allows local authorities to correctly identify these groups during the development planning process. Gypsies and Travellers usually interact with planning processes because of planning applications or enforcement or seeking to formalise sites/family yards for living and storing equipment. The definition will not guarantee the outcome of any individual planning decisions within the system, but will help planning authorities to recognise the importance of planning for Gypsy and Traveller accommodation.

The siting of chalet-style residential caravans, touring caravans and often an amenity building on a defined plot can provide accommodation for Gypsies and Travellers across Scotland for permanent and semi-permanent living. Accommodation for Scottish Gypsy/Travellers can also be ‘stopover’ and ‘transit’ sites – vacant serviced plots available with communal refuse, drinking water sites and a single amenity block. It is also not unusual for a single Gypsy or Traveller family to seek a self-contained and private site/yard for themselves and extended family. For this, dwellings, amenity blocks, and storage buildings can be sought for siting caravans.

Showpeople are usually based in a yard (a place where chalets are sited and where rides are located when not in use), though some families live in houses. For these communities, both residential and business accommodation needs must be addressed. Showmen’s Yards should usually have good transport links to public services such as schools and hospitals. It is essential for development planning to not just seek to ‘define’ the community but seek to also understand how and when they will seek to enter the planning system.

We previously set out a 10 point action plan published on gov.scot that aims to improve the involvement of Gypsies and Travellers in the planning system. The National Planning Framework will be used to inform LDPs and local authority decisions on planning applications. The fourth National Planning Framework (NPF4) was laid in the Scottish Parliament on 8 November 2022 and is subject to Parliamentary consideration. NPF4 recognises Gypsy and Traveller sites within the Quality Homes policy. Early consultation and involvement of the Gypsy and Traveller communities at the Evidence Report stage of Local Development Plans would allow Local Authorities to accurately identify accommodation needs.


Email: LDPRegsandGuidance@gov.scot

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