Dale Farm

Sep. 14th, 2011 11:15 am
undyingking: (Default)
[personal profile] undyingking
The eviction of the Travellers at Dale Farm is fairly local to me, so it's been on our news pretty much every day for the last however long.

One curious aspect of the coverage, though, is that I don't think I've once heard a TV reporter point out that the land actually belongs to the Travellers themselves: they are being evicted from their own land, which they bought some time before settling it. Whether deliberately or not, the impression has firmly been given that they are squatting/trespassing there – which is quite untrue.

(Was that a surprise to you? If so, that supports my point.)

Given that it's their land, the issue at hand is that they are using it for residential purposes without having planning permission for the change of use. This planning permission would be denied, because the land is in the green belt. But don't think that means it's leafy verdant lungs of the countryside: it was a disused scrapyard when they bought it. It would be hard to argue that using it for residence purposes is any kind of degradation. Planning premission has been granted retrospectively, or the breach tolerated, in any number of such cases – that didn't involve Travellers.

It seems to me that the council are pushing the issue (at considerable expense) not for any practical reason, but because they think kicking Travellers out will play well with the Basildon electorate. And they are probably right.

(Interestingly, if the govt's current plans go through, there will be an enforced predisposition in favour of housing development, even on green belt land. I assume the Travellers could then apply anew for planning permission, and would have to be granted it. That would render this exercise an even more absurd waste of money.)

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