News  |  Posted July 4, 2023

Inclusive Planning for Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople

Fleur Dijkman and David Wood discuss a recent PAS project to help Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople in Fife engage with local planning.

“I want to be listened to”
“Everything I need is about my kids”
“There’s no space”

These are some snippets from our conversations with the communities.

In Spring 2023, Fife Council commissioned Planning Aid Scotland (PAS) to better understand the land use, accommodation and service provision needs of Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople in the region. The goal was to inform Fife’s forthcoming Local Development Plan through the lens of these unique experiences.

Last year, we worked with Fife Council on a children and young people’s engagement project, #FocusOnFife, and so we were pleased to work with Fife Council again on this new project, to help another seldom-heard group be included in planning decisions about their places.

Local Development Plans set out the future vision for an area for the next twenty years, including allocating land for proposed future developments. Given the pivotal role of Local Development Plans in shaping the evolution of an area, it is important that many different voices are heard and reflected in their preparation process. Under the provisions of the Planning (Scotland) Act 2019, the evidence report stage of Local Development Plans must include detail on actions taken to meet the potential accommodation needs of Gypsies and Travellers (as well as other seldom-heard groups).

As an impartial organisation with a wealth of experience in engaging seldom-heard groups in planning and placemaking, PAS was well placed to undertake this work.

There is no accurate up-to-date data available on the number of Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople in Fife. According to the 2011 census, 319 people gave their ethnicity as Gypsy or Traveller, however this is thought to be an underestimate. Fife has three public sites for Gypsies and Travellers run by the council.

PAS initiated meaningful conversations with individuals, families and wider groups, which were designed to provide a safe and confidential space for members of the community to share their views about the area. Key issues raised during engagement included land use, accommodation and service provision, as well as perceptions of safety, the needs of young people and stigmatisation. The project was not only limited to the existing issues but also captured their aspirations for the future.

In total, we engaged in over 50 conversations, receiving over 250 comments. We also engaged with organisations that work with the two communities to better understand current key land use issues and service provisions. The Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople we spoke to welcomed the opportunity to discuss their experiences.

One of the key findings was the desire among many Gypsies and Travellers to live on private sites, emphasising the need for a more flexible and inclusive planning system. Similarly, the Travelling Showpeople shared their contentment regarding the current provisions but signalled some potential areas for improvement.

The project’s outcomes provided invaluable insights into the communities’ needs, leading to recommendations. Not only did the initiative help in identifying existing challenges, but it also paved the way for creating a more inclusive and equitable future for Gypsies and Travellers and Travelling Showpeople communities in Fife.

If you would like to know more, or discuss a similar project, please contact us at

Quotes “I want to be listened to” and “Everything I need is about my kids” in speech bubbles above cartoon people on a purple background.