Support the Dale Farm Planning Appeal – Letter writing campaign Mary Flynn Appeal

Mary Flynn is an Irish Traveller from Dale Farm who is appealing the
refusal of planning permission for her plot. Mary’s appeal would be helped
by supporters and residents of Dale Farm sending letters supporting her
appeal. So TSN is calling for supporters to write letters.

In your letter you can set out your personal opinions about the need for
planning permission to be granted. There’s a number of planning issues
below which you could use to support your case, as well as an outline of
the special considerations that should be given to the case for human
rights and humanitarian reasons. Below is a bit of formal wording to help
you draft you letter.

=========

Information which should go in your letter

Plot 45, Dale Farm
APP/V1505/A/11/2163607 Dale Farm

The retention of a change in use of the land to a residential Gypsy /
Traveller caravan site including the retention of hard standings, fences,
and the siting of a portable structure on the land to be used as a
utility facility.

I wish to support the appeal of the Dale Farm Residents Association in
relation to the above.

I am < personal circumstances stuff… include full name and address >

I am a statutory party.. < if you were staying at Dale Farm between
August and September 2011 then you can claim this status (say why)
otherwise delete>

<your arguments on why the appeal should be allowed by the Secretary of
State>

I authorise Grattan Puxon, Secretary of Dale Farm Resident’s Association,
to represent my interests at the inquiry.

Yours faithfully,

<name>
<date>

===

send your letter by email to:

appeals@basildon.gov.uk, planning@basildon.gov.uk,
tony.ball@members.basildon.gov.uk, enquiries@pins.gsi.gov.uk
and bcc: ycx26@dial.pipex.com, dalefarmbackoffice@riseup.net (so that we
can track
responses.)

=====

Information about the appeal:

The planning application was submitted in August 2011, and was considered
by The Development Control and Traffic Management Committee on 18th
October 2011. A decision notice was issued on 19th October 2011 refusing
permission.

===

Reasons for refusal of planning permission:

Guidance in national planning policy PPG2 – allows for exception to be
made where it can be shown there are very special circumstances. The
council does not allow that the personal circumstances of the applicant
are sufficient to justify this. They refer to the previous decisions of
the Secretary of State.

In addition they refer to their own policy BAS BE12 which prohibits
development “materially harmful to the character of the surrounding area
which has a dominating appearance within the landscape and creates
traffic congestion impinging on highway safety” and concludes that this
application be refused because of harm to the visual amenity of the area
and openness of the greenbelt.

===

Arguments which could be used against these points:

1) That the decision of the Development Control and Traffic Management
Committee on about 18th October 2011 was not correctly informed:

a) they were not told that the Council had been found by the High Court
to have overenforced notices and had to pay costs because of this

b) they were not told that the Council intended to overenforce more
notices in the eviction the next day – some of which were issued without
authority

c) they were not told that the openness of the greenbelt would be
compromised by the Council’s bunding of the site after the eviction

d) the previous decision of the Secretary of State should not be taken
into account because this was not informed by the previous points

e) and that both the Development Control and Traffic Management Committee
and the Secretary of State were mislead by the council who said that there
had been many road traffic accidents in the area when in fact the police
have confirmed that from 01 June 2000 to date there has been only one
recorded accident. The amount of traffic likely to be generated by Mrs
Flynn and her family amounts at most to two or three vehicles.

2) That the Council used its own planning regulations inappropriately
and inconsistently

a) the Council wrongly stated that the reason for its decision was
preserving the openness of the greenbelt; this was a former scrapyard and
has not in the past 50 years been a greenfield site and the actions of
the council in constructing bunding after the eviction causes more loss
of visual amenity than the traveller site ever did.

b) the Council needed planning permission to construct these bunds on
greenbelt land but failed to apply for it

c) the Council has made exceptions to development on greenbelt land in the
area in other recent cases and should do so in this case. (Eg: On 29th
November 2011 the Development Control & Traffic Management Committee
granted conditional planning permission to 11/00433/Full for a Dog
Re-homing Centre with associated hardstanding and 2 staff houses to be
developed on 13 acres of Green Belt land in Wickford.)

3) That there are special circumstances which should be given more
weight in considering this appeal:

a) The material harm caused to Mrs. Flynn and her family by evicting them
on to the road would be disproportionate. Mrs. Flynn is a widow and does
not drive. Her grandchildren still suffer nightmares since the eviction
and she is in ill-health. She uses a nebuliser for breathing
difficulties. She needs care from her community which is supplied by
friends and family at dale farm. It is the duty of the council to
protect these vulnerable people. They are Basildon residents and many of
the children were born in the area.

b) There is a need for about 150 additional pitches in the area. The
Council has admitted that there is a need for more legal pitches in the
area but has failed to provide these. In addition, it had rejected
guidance by the Secretary of State, including a statement from Deputy
Prime Minister John Prescott that a site at Terminus Road, Pitsea, would
be suitable. This site was later the subject of a planning application by
the DFHA, rejected by the Council. Land in Laindon offered by the Homes
and Communities Agency (along with a budget for its development) was also
turned down by the Council. The Council have said that a Gypsy and
Traveller site Development Plan Document will be published by winter 2014
- this is far too late given the pressing need of many homeless families
of travellers in the area.

c) Those that have applied to the Council for help with homelessness have
been offered either nothing at all or brick and mortar accommodation.
This is against all current advice that this is an inappropriate offer
for Gypsy and Traveller families. (The concept of ‘cultural aversion to
conventional housing’ first appeared in a planning case, Clarke v
Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions in 2003
- Burton J concluded that, if a cultural aversion to conventional housing
was established, such an offer would be unsuitable ‘just as would be the
offer of a rat-infested barn’.)

d) Gypsies and Travellers are believed to experience the worst health and
education status of any disadvantaged group in England. The lack of sites
restricts access to many health, education and welfare services. This not
only affects their general well-being, but means that many Gypsies and
Travellers are not sufficiently integrated into settled communities,
helping to further reinforce stereotypical views that these groups
‘don’t fit in’. The life expectancy of a traveller is 12 years less than
a person from the settled community. Child mortality rates are almost
three times higher amongst the travelling community.

e) The Council has a duty to protect the human rights of travellers who
are a recognised ethnic minority. The rights of children (including Mrs.
Flynn’s grandchildren) should carry primary weight in any decision
according to the guidance of both the UN and The European Union.
(Article 24 of the European Union’s charter of Fundamental Rights: IN ALL
ACTIONS RELATING TO CHILDREN, WHETHER BY PUBLIC AUTHORITIES OR PRIVATE
INSTITUTIONS, THE CHILD’S BEST INTERESTS MUST BE A PRIMARY
CONSIDERATION)

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