Principle 1: Site and Pitch Layout

The section provides approaches and considerations when planning and designing Gypsy and Traveller sites. The guidance is aimed to provide an overview of what is expected. The guidance is designed to be applicable to a range of scaled sites from smaller sites consisting of two or three pitches through to large scale sites of 15+ pitches. It is recognised that not all guidance will be appropriate to every site and the developer, architect and Gypsy and Traveller community should assess the need.

Site Layout

It is known that there is no one layout that can be applied to every development site. The layout design of development sites will be shaped by a number of constraints both within the site as well as wider contextual influences. To help in the layout of a site it is recommended that early consultation and assessment is undertaken to recognise site influences as well as encompassing community involvement and input.

Development sizes and pitch numbers will all have an input into the layout and arrangement of a site. Larger sites should consider the crescent or similar layout to address manoeuvrability, surveillance and security, while for smaller sites considerations play more on security and surveillance.

Sites up to 15 pitches are considered to provide a well-balanced site where amenity, security and management of a site can be achievable depending on site opportunities and constraints.

Site influences and allowances should be considered when planning:

  • Access – Multiple access options should be considered for both pedestrian and vehicular. Sites must make allowances for both manoeuvrability of caravans and trailers as well as emergency vehicles.
  • Servicing – Infrastructure needs to be able to support the community the site is designed for.
  • Landscape Impact (character, visual and amenity) – Development should be landscape driven where impact is mitigated and proposals responsive to landscape requirements (e.g. reduction of hard landscaping).
  • Planning Designations (Tree Preservation Orders, Protected Sites, Green Belt, Ecological Impacts) – Sites need to identify and respond to designations at an early stage of the design process.
  • Visual Impact – The design process should respond and mitigate to any visual impact as a result of development. This can be from a landscape, character or privacy approach.
  • Parking – Development must be in accordance with Essex Parking Standards while addressing user requirements.
  • Amenity Space – Allowance for open space should be encouraged.
  • Boundary Impact – Sites should be inclusive within a wider community. Boundary proposals should respond to site requirements and openness of a Gypsy, Traveller and Showpeople site.
  • Density – Layout and density should meet national standards while responding to the needs of a resident.
  • Drainage – Sustainable drainage should be encouraged.
  • Travelling Showpeople requirements – Suitable storage facilities should be allowed to cater for the residents.


Density of Gypsy and Traveller sites should be driven by the latest fire safety guidance or advice from the fire authority with regards to offset and position of living accommodation.

Considerations should also factor privacy of individual pitches where a clear balance between natural surveillance is included.

Density of pitches will also have key impacts on servicing, manoeuvrability, parking and management of the site.

Pitch Size

Pitch size will be determined by site layout, safety guidance, site specific requirements as well as considerations for size of family unit. Essex County Council’s waiting lists and Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) can provide information of the need and requirements for families to allow for a variety of pitch sizes to cater for demand.

It is advised that the following pitch requirements should be considered when designing a pitch layout:

  • Large Trailer Pitch – Mobile homes have become more widely used in the place of traditional caravans. The size, servicing and manoeuvrability should be considered. As mobile homes increase in size it is advised allowance for up to 25m in length should be considered.

Due to the varying sizes of accommodation, as well as site considerations, it is suggested that varying sized trailer pitches are provided to cater for the changing size of family and pitch requirements. Larger pitches can be provided closer to the site access where manoeuvrability can be more complex for large trailers. Access to pitches should cater for the average trailer size for up to 15m in length.

  • Parking – It is advised that parking for up to two vehicles is provided. Parking specification should be in accordance with the Essex Parking Standards. Working vehicles should be considered in the layout and access requirements. Parking areas should be finished in a bound material to ensure maintenance and appearance are in keeping with site requirements and design response.
  • Storage – Consideration should be given to the provision of an external storage shed. This could be to cater for bicycle storage, washing line storage or tools. Storage should be accessible as well as lockable.
  • Amenity Building – see below
  • Travelling Showpeople Yard – Consideration should have regard to the need for mixed-use yards to allow residents accommodation and space for storage of equipment.

Amenity Building

Amenity buildings must be provided to all proposed pitches. The role of an amenity building provides a self-contained facility. As a minimum each unit should provide the following;

  • Hot and cold water
  • Electricity supply
  • A separate toilet - Toilet should be accessed through lobby or separate access direct from the pitch.
  • Bath and/or shower
  • Kitchen and dining areas with storage.
  • Means of heating

It is becoming more common for the inclusion of day and living rooms to be included within amenity building designs. It is encouraged that these are a facility which can be either a separate room or integrated into the kitchen dining arrangement.

The construction of an amenity block should meet the requirements of the current Building Regulations as well as other quality and construction standards. This would include the compliance of materials and workmanship to ensure durable and low maintenance buildings are provided.

Where possible it is recommended that buildings are cost effective through the installation of energy efficient design and construction methods. These should consider passive solar gain, energy conservation and sustainable building materials in accordance with the Essex Design Guide – Renewable Energy for Developments section.

Design and construction of all buildings must meet Building Regulations (2010) and Design and Quality Standards (2007).

Page updated: 11/09/2019

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