Proposal asks to authorise two Traveller sites in Havering and protect ‘Gypsy ethnic way of life’ 

The two sites have already been occupied for some time, one of which is in Noak Hill, the other Lower Bedfords Road

The two sites have already been occupied for some time, one of which is in Noak Hill, the other Lower Bedfords Road - Credit: Google

Two long-occupied unauthorised Gypsy and Traveller sites in Havering are subject to applications asking for permission to become permanent. 

Both change-of-use applications, one of which is regarding a site in Noak Hill and the other in Lower Bedfords Road, have been submitted to Havering Council by Keith Smith, who is acting as an agent on behalf of the applicants. 

While different in scope, the two sites have been occupied for some time - the Noak Hill location for at least the last 15 years and the Lower Bedfords Road site having had four static mobile homes on it for 28 years. 

Each application highlights how those residing on the sites have “benefited from being able to access the NHS and education services, and it is therefore the object of the applicant to acquire planning full permission (sic) to be able to remain on the site providing a safe and secure home so that they can pursue their Gypsy ethnic way of life”. 

The people living on the Noak Hill site have developed into a “small community”, with five different names listed as applicants, each with their own plot. 

Of the two submissions, the Noak Hill site is the larger. Across the five plots noted, the application requests permission for 12 static mobile homes, three touring caravans, the erection of three dayrooms and the retention of two dayrooms. 

The Lower Bedfords Road application meanwhile involves only one applicant, and asks for permission for four static mobile homes, a dayroom, hardstandings and associated ancillary works. 

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According to government data from January 2020, 12 per cent of traveller caravans in England were on unauthorised sites, a total of 2,743. 

This was down on the preceding two years, with 2,811 in January 2019, and 2,984 a year before. 

Concerns relating to the impact of unauthorised sites on traveller communities has led to charities, such as Friends Families and Travellers, to push for changes such as councils allocating more authorised sites, and greater rights for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people. 

The issue of unauthorised sites in Havering was previously raised in 2018, when nearly 100 were discovered across the borough

Mr Smith was approached for comment.