Planning documents obtained for the address nearest to Dale Farm owned by a member of the ‘settled’ community reveal that it was built as an “unlawful development” and then given retrospective planning permission. Additionally, Basildon Council served Enforcement notices on the owners of the property but never took action to put them into effect.(1)
The documents reveal that Tony Ball’s often-repeated claims regarding Travellers at Dale Farm that “[t]hey are being treated exactly the same way as any other citizen,” is incorrect. (2)
In an ironic twist, the property known as Windyridge, is currently owned by the prominent anti-traveller activist Len Gridley. His father owned the land and illegally developed it, while according to the Council documents Len lived in an illegal mobile home on the site (3).
Steve Dixby who rented a workshop next door and helped build the illegal dwelling said, “When I moved into them workshops there wasn’t a building there…there was nothing but a concrete slab on the land with a tarpaulin over it. I helped the owner put down some bricks and he built a tin roof building.”
He continued: “That place got built in the 80s. There were no buildings in that field before then, just a slab – that was Windy Ridge. There was no planning permission. They were all chancers buying greenbelt land on the cheap and hoping to get away with building on it. Then when someone else tries to do what they done, like with the Travellers, they don’t want it to happen and they make a fuss. But they were all chancers.” (4)
Subsequently, Len Gridley successfully applied for planning permission to extend his illegally constructed dwelling, despite the ongoing enforcement notices against the caravans and mobile homes not having been complied with. In 2002 these caravans were refused planning permission but remain there today (5)
Hannah Roberts from Dale Farm Solidarity said, “Tony Ball is backed into a corner by the revelations of the council’s double standard in dealing with breaches of planning regulation from the settled and Traveller communities. The government justifies making 400 people homeless by saying that rules must apply to everyone. It’s not true. And they never mention that 90% of Traveller planning applications are rejected, as opposed to only 20% overall. This eviction must be called off.”
(1) All documents on our website http://dalefarm.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/windyridge-oak-rd-crays-hill-history.pdf. Unlawful quote is from para 15. Pictures of the caravan available on request. http://dalefarm.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/windyridge-oak-rd-crays-hill-2.pdf. Full address is Windyridge, Oak Road, Crays Hill, CM11 2LY.
(3) Para 21 of document.
(4) Mr Dixby is available to talk to the press on request.