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11/10/2021

Ireland develops plans to meet needs of the Traveller community

Words: Laura Edgar
Traveller site / Richard Johnson, Shutterstock_1487451929

New city and county development plans being prepared in Ireland present a ‘real opportunity’ to make sure the accommodation needs of the Traveller community are better facilitated, according to the Office of the Planning Regulator (OPR).

Traveller Accommodation and the Local Authority Development Plan, a case study paper, surveyed existing local authority development plans and Traveller Accommodation Programmes (TAPs) to consider the links between their policies and objectives for Traveller-specific accommodation.

The amended Planning and Development Act 2000 states that development plans must set out provision for accommodation for travellers while supplementary advice is contained in The Planning Guidelines on Development Plans (2007).

In compiling the case study, the OPR sought to address knowledge gaps, to provide support for local authorities in performing their outings and to highlight best practice, such as specific proposals for providing Traveller accommodation.

It found that all development plans feature general policy statements for traveller accommodation, with 94 per cent including specific listed policies and objectives. A small number, said the OPR, included maps to identify Traveller-specific accommodation.

The paper concludes that there is an opportunity for the next generation of development plans to improve alignment with local authorities’ TAPs. This will require local authority housing and planning departments to work together on their respective TAP and development plan processes.

The paper commits the OPR to prioritising working with local authorities when evaluating development plans to “bring about a more consistent approach in regards to the identification of Traveller accommodation within development plans”.

Planning regulator Niall Cussen said that although the case study highlights some of the good practice that exists, it “also finds a lack of uniformity in approach”.

“By implementing the examples in the case study paper and using the good practice checklist, planning authorities will be better able to facilitate the provision of Traveller accommodation.

“Also, initiatives such as mapping Traveller-specific accommodation gives the public and other stakeholders, through the public consultation phase of the development plan process, the opportunity to input their opinion on any proposed locations. This will help to avoid any issues which might arise later in the planning process.”

Cussen added that as almost all local authorities are currently producing new development plans, it is an “ideal opportunity to incorporate best practice and help facilitate the delivery of Traveller accommodation”.

Traveller Accommodation and the Local Authority Development Plan can be found on the OPR website (pdf).

Image credit | iStock

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