Dale Farm group ask Essex inquiry for two new sites

Former residents of the UK's largest unauthorised travellers' site are to argue at a public inquiry for two new places to live in Essex.

The Dale Farm Residents Association is to make its case at the Basildon Centre and will ask for a mobile-home park in Church Lane in nearby Laindon.

It also wants a second site near Dale Farm, at Gardiner's Lane in Crays Hill.

Both sites belong to the Homes and Communities Agency which offered them to Basildon Council as traveller plots.

The inquiry will consider the council's decision to refuse planning permission for 12 permanent plots.

The council is challenging a claim from the travellers that 60 temporary pitches to meet their immediate need of travellers would also be considered.

They describe this as "misinformation".

Many former residents have parked caravans in lanes near their former homes at Dale Farm.

'Rising to challenge'

The hearing follows last month's clearance of the six-acre site in Crays Hill following a decade-long row over unauthorised plots.

There were violent clashes between police and protesters during the operation.

Many families have settled on the legal half of Dale Farm, exceeding its authorised capacity.

Dale Farm residents' campaigner Grattan Puxon said: "Council leader Tony Ball turned around last week and advised homeless travellers to seek residence permits through proper channels.

"Rising to this challenge, residents will put their case to a public inquiry."

At its peak, some 400 people lived on Dale Farm.

No doubling up

A Basildon Council spokesman said a planning application for a site in Church Road at Laindon was limited to 12 pitches.

"Each pitch or plot considered in the application is designed to accommodate one family," he said.

"Any suggestion of families doubling up on pitches would be strenuously resisted by the council as it goes against established best practice.

"In any case, if there were to be any variation in the number of plots, this would need to be the subject of a separate planning application.

"Suggestions that the appeal hearing is to consider up to 60 temporary plots are completely inaccurate and untrue.

"This is misinformation which does nothing to serve the travellers' cause in the long run."

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