Bid to redevelop Dale Farm site branded "ludicrous"

A PLAN by traveller activists to try to redevelop Dale Farm as a “super site” have been branded “ludicrous” by residents. Stuart Hardwicke-Carruthers, a campaigner for the families who were cleared from the illegal part of the site last October in a £7million operation, has told Basildon Council they intend submitting a new planning application.

It would involve upgrading the around 40 legal pitches in Oak Lane, redeveloping the 51 illegal plots which were demolished at Dale Farm, and adding in 20 temporary transit pitches in Oak Lane where a number of caravans are currently illegally parked.

A council spokesman said: “Mr Hardwicke-Carruthers has requested the council's opinion as to whether an environmental impact assessment would need to be carried out prior to the possible submission of a planning application for the proposed development of a 111 pitch gypsy and traveller site on land he refers to as being Dale Farm.

"It should be stressed that no planning application has been submitted.

"The Council has three weeks from the submission date of the request to provide its opinion.

"The consideration of this request does not affect the planning position or Green Belt status of the land."

Len Gridley, 54, whose Oak Road home backs on to the former site, campaigned for ten years for the eviction.

He said: “This is another ludicrous plan.

There would be an uproar if this got through and residents would make sure the whole council had to resign because of the amount of money spent on the eviction to reinstate it would be madness.”

Since the eviction the land has remained a rubble-strewn eyesore and health hazard which is contaminated with sewage and asbestos.

Mr Gridley added: “They need to clear the asbestos and get this returned to a field as soon as possible.”

Yet Mr Hardwicke-Carruthers maintained it was a viable solution to the lack of authorised traveller sites in Basildon.

He said: “Because the land is now contaminated with hazardous substances the most sensible option will be to cap it with a concrete base and the only real potential use becomes another traveller site.

This will not only deal with the environmental problems caused by the clearance but also meet the shortage of sites in the borough.”

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