Tag Archives: planning permission

A lesson in community cohesion

With the spotlight on the imminent eviction of residents from Dale Farm, a large, illegal Gypsy and Traveller site in Essex, will councils face even greater community opposition to developing sites in the future?

Examples of good-practice sites may be less headline-grabbing, but there are perhaps lessons to be learned when it comes to building trust and co-operation within communities.

Experts on Gypsy and Traveller issues have praised Fenland Council in March, Cambridgeshire, for developing positive relations with the travelling community and fostering a general acceptance of Gyspies and Travellers by the settled community.

Unlike other councils in the East of England, Fenland has only a small number of sites without planning permission, which is key to avoiding community tensions like those at Dale Farm.

Marta Clayton went to Fenland to find out more.

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MORE NEWS AND COMMENTS:

Dale Farm eviction looms

New warning about localism for Gypsies and Travellers

“Lives at risk” say Dale Farm campaigners

Localism: who’s really got the power?

 

 

 

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Dale Farm eviction looms

No one knows exactly when the removal of 86 families from an illegal Traveller site in Crays Hill, Essex, will begin.

But now the funding is in place for the clearance operation, Basildon Council is expected to serve a 28-day eviction notice on the residents of Dale Farm very soon.

One part of the farm has been occupied legally by Gypsies since the 1960s, but the 10-year battle began when Irish Travellers moved onto a patch of land next to the legal site in 2001.

Although they had bought the land from a scrap merchant, the Travellers were refused planning permission by Basildon Council on the grounds that it was green belt land.

Now the imminent threat of eviction looms.

WATCH THE VIDEO REPORT HERE:

MORE NEWS AND COMMENTS:

A lesson in community cohesion

New warning about localism for Gypsies and Travellers

“Lives at risk” say Dale Farm campaigners

Localism: who’s really got the power?

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New warning about localism for Gypsies and Travellers

A charity has warned that local communities could have the power to prevent Gypsy and Traveller sites being developed in their area, if a new law is passed.

According to a new report by the Irish Traveller Movement in Britain, the Government’s proposed Localism Bill will put planning decisions for Gypsy and Traveller accommodation in the hands of local councils and communities.

This could lead to a shortage of authorised sites in the face of local objections, says the charity.


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MORE NEWS AND COMMENTS:

A lesson in community cohesion

Dale Farm eviction looms

“Lives at risk” say Dale Farm campaigners

Localism: who’s really got the power?

4 Comments

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There’s something about Dale Farm

The other day I visited Dale Farm in Crays Hill, Essex, allegedly the largest illegal Traveller site in Europe.

It was pouring down with rain and the place looked deserted. A resident with a young girl and dog in tow eyed my car with suspicion, but her face softened when I wound down my window and told her I was there to see Mary-Ann McCarthy.

The Dublin-born site matriarch waved from her doorstep and welcomed me in. Her mobile home looked as neat as a pin and the living room was plush with a cream leather suite and large dried flower displays.

Mary-Ann McCarthy: At home on Dale Farm

Mary-Ann, 70, has lived on the site for 10 years, which now houses three generations of her family. She insisted that the Travellers don’t want to break the law but they have nowhere else to go.

Death threats and police escorts

I also met Len Gridley, 52, whose one-and-a-half acres of garden backs onto the Dale Farm site. He said his outspoken opposition to the site has led to death threats and he is given a police escort home after council meetings.

He showed me aerial-view photographs of the site that stretch back to 2001 when the first eight families arrived and put up fencing and hardstandings without planning permission.  Now there are 51 plots and 86 families and Basildon Council is expected to serve a 28-day eviction notice at any time.

Mr Gridley said he doesn’t blame the Travellers in spite of the intimidation he’s experienced. He suggested Basildon Council is at fault for not nipping the illegal site development in the bud all those years ago.

It all started with a disgruntled scrap merchant

It’s interesting that it all started with a disgruntled scrap merchant who warned the council that he would sell his land to the Travellers, if he didn’t get the planning permission he wanted.  He wasn’t joking.

One wonders why it has taken a decade to get the go-ahead on an eviction that may cost the tax payer as much as £18million.  Such is the nature of planning law: the process can take so long if you’re determined to fight it every step of the way.

But the problem is that it isn’t just a simple planning application.  It’s actually a small settlement with none of the attributes required of one: no road infrastructure and no water, sewer or power networks.  These could cost a lot more than £18million, even if it was a suitable place to locate such a settlement, and who would pay for that?

 

NEWS AND COMMENTS:

A lesson in community cohesion

Dale Farm eviction looms

New warning about localism for Gypsies and Travellers

“Lives at risk” say Dale Farm campaigners

Localism: who’s really got the power?

 

 

7 Comments

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