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Council brings High Court case over 'illegal' travellers site

Basildon Council is bringing its case against the illegal site to the High Court. Credit: ITV News

A council is bringing a High Court case to stop travellers from developing an illegal site in Essex that residents fear could be larger than Dale Farm.

Dale Farm in Crays Hill, near Basildon, Essex, was Europe's largest illegal travellers' site and its clearance in 2011 cost about £7 million.

It is claimed a similar site is being built on green belt land at Hovefields in Wickford, about two miles from Dale Farm, after lorries delivered more than 600 tonnes of hardcore this month.

It is thought the site is being built on green belt land at Hovefields. Credit: ITV News

Basildon Council is taking legal action after a High Court injunction banning development was allegedly breached.

The High Court hearing is listed to take place on 5 April.

The injunction, obtained in October 2016, stops any further caravans being brought onto the land at Silva Lodge Kennels, in Hovefields Avenue, but this injunction has allegedly been breached.

It is believed the new site is just two miles from where Dale Farm previously stood. Credit: ITV News

The council has also served enforcement notices for the planning breaches but the owners lodged appeals.

The notices requiring removal of the unpermitted works are suspended until the appeals are determined at a Planning Inspectorate inquiry set to start on 5 September on land west of Hovefields Avenue, Wickford.

"By taking this case to court, Basildon Council is demonstrating that it is determined to properly enforce planning law. "We shall also vigorously defend our position at the planning inquiry."

– Phil Turner, Leader, Basildon Council
Dale Farm was the largest illegal travellers site in Europe. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Jill Walsh, of Hovefields Residents' Association, said the site was large enough to accommodate 50 families.

"It will be bigger[than Dale Farm]. That's our concern."

– Jill Walsh, Hovefields Residents' Association
Dale Farm was cleared in 2011 - but residents fear the new development will be even bigger. Credit: ITV News