Overcrowding at Crays Hill prompts discussion about potential planning application

First published in News by

TRAVELLERS evicted from Dale Farm are in talks about a possible move to another site in Basildon.

Families from the site, who are still living in overcrowded conditions on the neighbouring legal site in Oak Lane, Crays Hill, met representatives of the Irish Traveller Movement to discuss potential plans for a new site in the Gardiners Lane South area.

The Gypsy Council first mooted plans for a ten-pitch site there before last October’s eviction.

However, due to the application being invalid, it was never considered by Basildon Council. A meeting at Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church, in London Road, Wickford, yesterday, thrashed out the size of site to consider and who may live there if planning permission is approved.

Stuart Hardwick-Carruthers, a campaigner for the travellers, said: “Some of the people from Dale Farm want the plans to be looked at again with a proper application going in.

“The Irish Traveller Movement is pushing this forward, but I’m not sure how it would get the funding.

“There is also going to be an appeal in the High Court over the refusal of planning permission for 12 pitches on the land off Church Road, in Laindon.

“I am more hopeful of that site, because we know we can apply for funding through the Gypsy Council.”

Both sites are owned by the Government-funded Homes and Communities Agency, which said it would allow them to be used as traveller sites before the eviction, however, Basildon Council objected.

At Gardiners Lane South, the land is earmarked for a major housing scheme, but plans have been shelved, due to the economic climate.

A resident, who did not want to be named, said: “We have had the threat of development over us for more than 20 years, and nothing has ever been built, while we are left in limbo.

“So it would be a real injustice if they allowed a traveller site to go ahead while nothing else can, and we can’t get planning permission on our properties.”

Council leader Tony Ball said any application would have to be considered on its merits.

He added: “I want to see a comprehensive development, including housing on the site at some stage, but currently nothing is feasible according to the agency.

“If and when it does go ahead, the tenure and type of accommodation would have to be looked at then.”

The Irish Traveller Movement confirmed it met representatives of Dale Farm, but did not comment further.

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