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Inspector Dismisses Appeals for New Traveller Site in South Oxfordshire: Public Sector Equality Duty and Application of the 'Tilted Balance' Considered

Annabel Graham Paul

Following an 8 day inquiry, an Inspector has dismissed two related appeals for a new 12 pitch traveller site between the M40 and A40 near Tetsworth in South Oxfordshire. The Inspector found that the development would conflict with development plan policies on landscape grounds and the noise for future occupiers of the site caused by the nearby roads would be unacceptable.

He recognised that the Council did not have a 5 year supply of traveller sites in the District and there was significant unmet need for traveller accommodation which could not be met on an alternative site. However, he rejected the Appellant’s submission that this triggered the ‘tilted balance’ in the NPPF, in reliance on the case of Wenman v SSCLG [2015] EWHC 925 (Admin). The ‘tilted balance’ was only triggered by a failure to demonstrate the supply of housing on sites other than pitches on traveller sites.

Furthermore, he rejected the Appellant’s contention that the public sector equality duty was a material consideration in support of the proposals on account of the disparity between the Council’s 9 years’ supply of housing for the settled community and the unmet need for travellers sites. The public sector equality duty relates to protected characteristics, one of which concerns race, but whilst many travellers fall within recognised ethnic groups such as Romany Gypsies or Irish Travellers, that need not be the case.

Annabel Graham Paul acted for the successful local planning authority, instructed by Marc Pullen.

The decision can be found here.