Van dwellers priced out of housing market demand land


Van dwellers on Bristol's streets are demanding land is found for them so they can park up permanently.

A rising number of people have turned to living in their vans because they've been priced out of the city's rental market.

It has caused tension with some home owners in Easton who say the level of sanitation is unacceptable.

Bristol City Council says it can't provide land as it is already earmarked for affordable homes.

But the authority says it is working on ways to improve security for van dwellers and to combat the impact on those living in houses nearby.

media captionSecurity guard Jonathon lives in a van on Bristol's streets.

Across Bristol, van communities have been popping up in St Werburgh's, St Andrews and along the Downs in Clifton.

Due to a legal loophole, enforcement officers can order caravans to move on but not legally-parked vans.

While some residents are sympathetic, others have raised concerns about the effect on house prices and sanitation.

Van dweller Kirsty Smith said: "We just want an area where it is accepted and we are allowed without it being a problem."

Christo Machon manages and lives on a site in Kingswood rented from Creative Youth Network where van dwellers pay £250 month.

He said: "I believe if a site is managed properly then most of the issues can be resolved peaceably."

The number of people sleeping rough in England is at its highest level since 2009 and Help Bristol's Homeless is assisting the homeless to build homes from shipping containers.

'National problem'

A Bristol City Council spokesperson said: "We are aware of a growing trend of people who are turning to living in vans or caravans on our streets in Bristol and around the country.

"We realise that this trend is having an impact on other residents around the city. However, the council is restricted in how it can respond.

"Without parking restrictions we are limited by national law in what we can do to enforce moving these kind of vans which are parked legally.

"This kind of enforcement would in any case not help to combat the longer term causes of this national problem. "

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