Find out about permanent and transit sites councils provide for Gypsies and Travellers to pitch a caravan.
Types of council sites
Most council sites are permanent, where your caravan can be stationed all year round.
Some councils offer transit sites. Your caravan can only be stationed for up to 3 months on a transit site. Councils may provide transit sites to deal with increased demand for pitches during the summer.
How to apply for a pitch
Many councils in England provide pitches for Gypsies and Travellers. There are around 6,000 pitches across more than 300 sites. The sizes of these sites vary.
You'll need to contact the council to find out how to apply for a pitch and how they are allocated in the area.
The council may keep a waiting list if their sites are full.
The council could refuse your application if you have:
- arrears from a previous stay on a council site
- a history of antisocial behaviour
- no connection to its area
Get advice if you're in this situation. Use Shelter's directory to find an adviser near you.
Facilities provided on council sites
Facilities on sites vary. They can include:
- hardstanding for a caravan
- space to park cars or other vehicles
- space for a second caravan to provide additional accommodation for your household or guests
- showers or baths
- some storage space
- a secure mailbox
Sites might have extra facilities such as meeting rooms or children's play areas. There may be access to education and health services, with a health visitor or teacher calling at the site.
Not all facilities are accessible for disabled people.
Occupancy rights on a council site
When you move on to the site, the council gives you an occupancy agreement to sign.
Occupancy agreements vary, but in general they should set out:
- contact details for the site manager and warden and a list of the things they're responsible for
- details of the pitch fees and any other charges
- site rules, for example, about visitors, pets, antisocial behaviour and use of the facilities
- what to do if any part of the site needs repair work
- how to complain
- the notice you must give if you want to leave
You have certain legal rights regardless of where your site is. Other rights may vary depending on whether it is a permanent or transit site and on the agreement you have with the council.
The occupancy agreement should be available in accessible formats, such as Braille or on tape. The site manager or the council's Gypsy/Traveller liaison officer should go over the agreement with you. Ask them to explain any details which are not clear.
How to complain about site conditions
Contact the site manager or the council's Gypsy and Traveller liaison officer if you're not happy with the facilities or conditions on the site.
You can use the council's complaints process to make an official complaint if things don't improve.
If the site or its facilities are not accessible for you, make a complaint to the site manager and council.
All councils in England have a responsibility to ensure that their services are reasonably accessible and inclusive, promoting equal opportunities for disabled people in all areas. This is known as the disability equality duty.
It is against the law for the council to discriminate against you because you are disabled, by treating you less favourably than a non-disabled person or offering you a poorer service.
Eviction from a council site
The council must get a court order if it wants to evict you from a permanent site.
If you are on a transit site the council must usually give you 4 weeks’ notice. No court order is needed.
If you're homeless and have nowhere to stay after you have to leave the site you may be able to get help from the council’s homelessness department.
What it costs to have a pitch
You can claim housing benefit to help pay all or some of your pitch fees.
If you fall behind with your site fees, an adviser may be able to help you apply for backdated benefits or arrange a payment plan with the council.
The council can evict you from the pitch because of arrears. If you live on a permanent site the council must get a court order.
Residents on council sites are expected to pay council tax. You may be entitled to council tax support to help you pay some or all of the council tax.
Utilities you may need to pay for include electricity, water and sewage services.
Depending on the site's policy, you may need to pay for these in advance or when you're billed. You may have to buy a pre-payment card for electricity.
Leaving the site to travel
Most councils allow you to keep your pitch on a permanent site for a time while you are away travelling, usually for up to 12 weeks a year. Your occupancy agreement may set out the site's policy or you can check with the site manager.
If the site manager agrees you can keep your pitch while you are away. Ask for this to be confirmed in writing.
You must continue to pay your pitch fees while you are away.
Rights to pass on a pitch if you die
If you die, your pitch passes to your husband, wife or civil partner if they were living with you.
If you do not have a husband, wife or civil partner, your pitch can pass to a member of your family who is living with you at the time of your death.
The pitch can pass to someone you leave it to in your will (or through the laws of intestacy if you don't have a will) if there is no partner or family member who qualifies. That person will need permission from the council before they can move in.
Get advice from a Shelter advice centre, Citizens Advice or another local advice service if you're unsure about your rights.
Specialist organisations that provide help for the Gypsy and Traveller communities include:
Last updated 25 May 2017 | © Shelter