Decision details

Unauthorised Encampments Update

Decision status: For Determination

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: No


The Director of Environment and Neighbourhood Services submitted a report that outlined the action taken and planned to protect Reading Borough Council’s land from unauthorised encampments.  The report also set out the latest position in respect of the provision of transit or permanent pitches for travellers.

The report stated that the Council continued to review land that had or might be camped upon to identify how it could be protected.  Between April 2017 and March 2018 the Council spent £104,000 on defending its most vulnerable sites.  Managers from across Council services had carried out a review of land and agreed with the Lead Councillor for Neighbourhood Services a process for prioritising work.  Defensive works were implemented at 13 locations across Reading by the end of March 2018.  Since April 2018, protection works had been completed at a number of other Council owned sites that had been repeatedly encamped including Portman Road, Walnut Way, Pottery Road, Bran Close, Landsdowne Rd/Portman Gardens, Coronation Square and Burford Court.  The report detailed the current status of the works.

The report stated that Reading had an above average number of unauthorised encampments when compared to other areas across the Thames Valley.  A Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) in 2017 had identified accommodation needs for 10-17 permanent pitches and for a transit site to house 10 caravans for gypsies and travellers in Reading.  In 2017/18 there had been 87 unauthorised encampments in Reading, most of which had been on Council land.  Having a transit caravan site could meet this element of need and reduce the number of unauthorised encampments.  However, identifying a site had been challenging.  Further to this independent study, the Council had undertaken a thorough assessment of 80 possible sites across the borough.  These had been considered against a range of planning policy criteria.  One potential transit site had been identified on land at the junction of Cow Lane and Richfield Avenue but this option had been dropped following strong objections from residents and Reading Festival organisers and the proposal to locate a new school on the site.  The Council had committed to undertake a further review of its land holdings and other opportunities in order to review potential sites and continued to raise the unmet need with adjoining Councils.

Resolved –

(1)        That the action taken to protect local authority land from unauthorised encampments be noted;

(2)        That the ongoing programme of works to protect those areas of Council land at risk of unauthorised encampments with physical measures, or other such measures as appropriate, be approved.

Publication date: 11/04/2019

Date of decision: 14/11/2018

Decided at meeting: 14/11/2018 - Housing, Neighbourhoods and Leisure Committee

Accompanying Documents: