Options Report

Chapter 5 - Site and Pitch Design & Layout

Definition of a 'pitch'

5.1 There is no definition set out in legislation with regards to the amount of caravans make up and/or size of a 'pitch'. The legislation directs that a pitch is the size or amount of caravans which meets a 'household' requirement.

5.2 Therefore, although a pitch is commonly referred to as 1 static + 1 tourer + amenity block + parking, this cannot be considered a formal position on all sites as, for example, larger households with teenage children may have 1 static and several tourers on 1 'household' pitch. When those children are adults and move into their own static/tourer - they may then be occupying a separate 'pitch'. It is therefore essential to use survey data, not just from a caravan count, but also detailing the relationships of a household in order to understand pitch supply and demand.

5.3 On larger sites some pitches may share some of the amenity provision such as outdoor spaces, parking areas and kitchen or bathroom blocks with others on the wider site, therefore the pitch itself may be smaller than the average pitch size.

5.4 Moving forward, officers propose that this issue is clearly addressed on each site allocation in the plan so that it is clear how many 'pitches' and how many 'caravans' are being proposed, as separate figures. This is set out in Chapter 6.

Pitch design

5.5 It is the Council's view that to meet the range of demographics and household sizes identified and meet the PPTS requirements of 'providing suitable accommodation' and reducing 'tensions between settled and traveller communities'[1] , Traveller sites and pitches and be of a size, layout and design that provides the best residential amenity for the occupiers and for the neighbouring residents. The PPTS also requires that policies should 'relate the number of pitches... to the circumstances of the specific size and location...'[2]

5.6 Site design should reflect modern traveller lifestyles and in addition to the caravans, provide enough space for parking, household storage, and amenity/bathroom blocks. The PPTS requires Local planning authorities to consider 'including traveller sites suitable for mixed residential and business uses, having regard to the safety and amenity of the occupants and neighbouring residents'[3] and therefore site design guidance should set out guidance for appropriate layouts for mixed use sites.

5.7 Previous national guidance on pitch design 'Designing Gypsy and Traveller Sites - Good Practice Guide 2008' was withdrawn in 2015 and has not been replaced. However, it did include some useful guidance and advice on site layout and design principles, some of which could be taken forward in local design policy as part of this plan.

5.8 There are a range of design and layout issues that the council considers are important to address as part of a local site/pitch design policy, and we are therefore suggesting the following issues could be addressed:

  • Site and pitch sizes could be set to ensure appropriate levels of private or shared amenity space for both single caravan and family pitches with more accommodation requirements. This minimum size approach was supported at Issues and Options consultation stage in general but there were some concerns about flexibility depending on size of household
  • Guide location and siting of caravans, tourers and commercial vehicles within the site. This includes taking into account fire safety considerations and the location of caravans in proximity to each other and other outbuildings
  • Appropriate vehicle access points and hard standing areas for parking and turning to meet the site and household size. Hardstanding should be of a permeable material for surface water flooding issues, as suggested by KCC in the Issues and Options
  • Garden and amenity land for relaxation, play space and practical space such as clothes drying for either single pitches or larger sites with multiple pitches
  • External lighting - ensuring a balance between residential amenity and protection of biodiversity, taking into consideration the Ashford Dark Skies Zones
  • Ensuring adequate connections for drainage, electricity and water (with service meters)
  • Appropriate levels of soft landscaping whilst making it clear the site should not be enclosed with hard landscaping, high walls or fences to an extent that suggests deliberate isolation from the community
  • How mix of residential and employment can be accommodated on sites/ pitches
  • Ensuring sufficient storage areas are provided for private residential use and mixed uses / employment spaces to ensure that sites are not visually harmful to surroundings
  • Location of equestrian uses - for example the location of stables and grazing land in relation to the accommodation, and how this may affect residential amenity

 

1. Paragraph 4 PPTS [back]
2. Paragraph 10 PPTS [back]
3. Paragraph 18 PPTS [back]

Site/Pitch Plans

5.9 Following on from the site design and layout issues detailed above, and the complexities of sites which have more than one pitch within them and may share amenity space or that are in locations which have particular constraints such as protected trees and neighbouring properties, it is often helpful to view the site and its features on a site plan.

5.10 During the Ashford Local Plan 2030 Examination the Inspector requested a site plan for one of the allocations to show the location of pitches within the wider site to be clear what impacts the pitches may have on residential amenity, access, trees and other landscape features. See an example below of a site/pitch plan, taken from the now withdrawn 'Designing Gypsy and Traveller Sites - Good Practice Guide 2008'.

Figure 1 - Site/pitch plan example

5.11 A site plan also enables the council to ensure sites are set out as required by policy, and that details such as landscaping, boundaries and tree protections are clearly identified which enable enforcement in cases where sites do not meet the requirements set out.

5.12 It is suggested that sites selected for allocation in the plan will have a site plan/map produced and we would like feedback on whether this approach is supported.