What is happening with Gypsy & Traveller accommodation in Southwark?

The New Southwark Plan with its recommendations to safeguard the four Gypsy & Traveller sites in Southwark and find an additional 27 pitches over the next five years was accepted by Southwark Council on 23rd February – but what happens now?

We are still waiting to hear about works to re-open the Springtide Close site and to learn more about the refurbishment of the Brideale and Burnhill sites. While the Greater London Authority (GLA) is beginning its London-wide Gypsy & Traveller Accommodation Needs Assessment in the next few months.

But STAG’s recent 2021-22 survey shows that accommodation issues remain for both those living on sites and in “bricks & mortar” in Southwark. What’s more we had even more respondents this year who have a strong connection to the borough but do not live there. The other questions we asked suggest some of the reason for this.

Although one-fifth of our respondents said their accommodation was overcrowded, this rose to almost half amongst those living on a Southwark Gypsy & Traveller site. This was consistent with results from our survey last year where again the highest proportion of respondents saying their accommodation was overcrowded was amongst those living on local authority sites in Southwark (58%).

On top of this, those living on Southwark Gypsy & Traveller sites, compared with those living in bricks and mortar in the borough or on sites or in housing outside the borough, also had the highest proportion reporting that their accommodation was in poor repair (almost half (46%)) and that they did not feel safe in their accommodation (over one-third (36%)).

STAG worked with our communities, London Gypsies & Travellers and Southwark Law Centre to get the commitments in the New Southwark Plan. But our recent survey findings show that we’ve still got a lot to do to see these changes making a difference to people’s lives.

We’re getting involved with the GLA’s London-wide Accommodation Needs Assessment, but our priority remains trying to make sure that we see improvement on Southwark sites with refurbishments agreed by the residents of existing sites and the re-opening of Springtide Close. We’ll also keep up the pressure to identify new pitches in the borough and support the need for smaller family sites to provide some of these. Please get in touch if you want to know more or can help us with this work.