Plans to scrap the duty on councils to assess Gypsies' and travellers accommodations needs in a separate category could result in local authorities not planning for pitches. The Housing and Planning Bill's explanatory note says that councils must 'consider the needs of all people residing in or resorting to their district, without any reference to Gypsies and travellers'.
Catriona Riddell, the POS Strategic Planning Subject Specialist, commnted to Planning magazine that it will, in theory, have little impact on local authorities' day-to-day work. "From a planning perspective," she said "I don't think it changes things, because councils still have a responsibility to assess the need and plan for Gypsies and travellers under the NPPF and the Planning Policy for Traveller Sites (PPTS)."
However, Riddell added that there is some real concern over local authorities' misinterpreting the new rules. The change, she said, is "almost like handing local authorities that are reluctant to plan for travellers an excuse not to do it".