A GOVERNMENT agency has offered all its land in Basildon district as possible sites for travellers to use.

The Homes and Communities Agency says Basildon Council is considering its offer to set up sites as an alternative to carrying out the eviction of 51 caravan pitches on the huge Dale Farm site, in Crays Hill.

The move has prompted travellers to prepare planning applications for several acres of land bordering the A127 and Pound Lane, Laindon.

They are also likely to apply for two separate sites in the Gardiners Lane South area of Basildon, where a plan to build 3,000 homes was shelved earlier this year.

The land offer was made after talks with the council and campaigners acting for the travellers, which the Echo understands took place at County Hall, Chelmsford on August 3.

A spokesman for the Homes and Communities Agency – formerly the Commission for New Towns – one of the major landowners in the district, said: “We have suggested to Basildon Council all our land in the district could be considered.

“It was a private meeting and it is still under consideration, so we can’t really say anything further.”

She declined to give details of all the agency land holdings in the district, saying the information was not readily available because it owned so much land.

However, the agency owns a number of large sites, including several acres off Dry Street, once earmarked for 1,200 homes, land between Endeavour Drive and the Mayflower retail park, and parts of the Craylands estate.

Grattan Puxon, leading travellers campaigner, said the agency had actively encouraged them to put forward planning applications.

He said: “At the meeting, the council made it clear it did not want to see more sites developed in Basildon, but the agency has advised us to draw up the applications. Plans have been drawn up for a 20-pitch site at Pound Lane, Laindon, which will go in shortly.

“As a result of the Hovefields eviction, we are also hurriedly trying to prepare applications for two smaller sites in the Gardiners Lane area.”

He added the agency had provided detailed plans of the land it owned at Gardiners Lane and Pound Lane to aid preparation of planning applications.

He said families now parked on the Selex sports ground had agreed to leave Hovefields to go there.

He hoped if an application went in before the families left the site, it might count as grounds to allow them to stay until it was considered.

He added: “Unfortunately, we chose a piece of ground which is being leased by the agency to Selex and is occupied, so we may have to find agency land in the area which is currently unoccupied.”

Tony Ball, council leader, said he was aware the agency had been looking at possible sites, but the council’s policy was not to consider such sites unless other Essex councils agreed to do the same.

He added: “I received a letter from Grattan Puxon, with drawings of sites for Gardiners Lane and Pound Lane, but I have no knowledge of the agency encouraging travellers to put in plans.”