Haldon Woods Gypsy and Traveller Site

Low-environmental impact solution for a sustainable and healthy travellers' site 

Gale & Snowden Architects were appointed by Teign Housing Association to develop a permanent solution to an unauthorised travellers' encampment.


The approach to sustainable construction was to rigorously employ passive design principles to ensure that, through simple design, the buildings use minimal amounts of energy and water whilst being comfortable, easy to use and healthy for the occupants.


The primary design objectives were:


  • To develop a sustainable and healthy Travellers’ Site with 15 permanent pitches
  • To achieve a contemporary interpretation of vernacular forms that is respectful of its woodland context in terms of scale and massing
  • To minimise the building’s carbon footprint by meeting the highest levels of energy efficiency and ecological design standards
  • To be fully accessible in accordance with Lifetime Homes Standards


The pitches were positioned following detailed site analysis and the desire to create good quality external spaces.  Any potential impact to the surrounding has been kept to a minimum through the retention of virtually all of the perimeter trees.


The aim of the scheme was to relocate households from the existing unauthorised site to an authorised and managed permanent travellers' site.  The fifteen pitches have a metered water and electricity supply.  Each of the pitches have an amenity building providing a wet room with shower, basin and toilet, a utility area with space and plumbing for a washing machine and storage space. Each pitch also has a parking space, a water butt, a log store, and a small garden area.


Also on site there are communal facilities including a natural children’s play area, a central building for community and social activities, a recycling and bin store, and allotments. 


Healthy building materials and components were carefully chosen according to the following principles:


  • Natural / recycled materials where practical.
  • Organic paints, waxes and stains throughout.
  • Specification of timber from sustainably managed woodlands (e.g. FSC certified).
  • Reduction of the use of composite timber panel products.
  • Reduced use of heavy metals (e.g. lead flashings to be stainless steel or zinc).
  • Use of sustainably sourced materials to ISO 14001
  • Use of materials with low embodied energy
  • Locally sourced materials, wherever possible.
  • Prevention of dust-mite infestation by specification of easily cleanable surfaces


The buildings were designed using thermal mass to reduce internal temperature fluctuations, combined with a super-insulated building envelope.  Daylight design was optimised to reduce the reliance on artificial light.