Dale Farm: The Site

Dale Farm is a six-acre plot of land, including the site of a former scrap yard, in the village of Crays Hill.

Since 2001 travellers have breached planning law by setting up homes in caravans, developing hard standings and road access across the site.

There are now 51 illegal pitches involving up to 240 people on the site.

Next to the illegal Dale Farm site there is also an authorised travellers' site known as Oak Lane, which is legal and which gained planning permission between 1992 and 1996. The Oak Lane site provides 34 legal pitches.

In July 2011, Basildon Council issued a 28 day notice to travellers occupying the unauthorised pitches on the site known as Dale Farm, requiring them to vacate the land in accordance with enforcement notices served over many previous years. This notice expired at midnight Wednesday 31st August.

A last minute injunction logged in the High Court by the travellers was dismissed on Wednesday 31st August. In reaching his decision the High Court judge ruled that there should be finality in the legal proceedings and that human rights had been considered at every step of the process.

Legal Landmarks

  • 2001 - Council serves first enforcement notices:

Basildon Council served the appropriate notices in 2001 and the travellers brought legal action in an attempt to have these repealed.

In 2003 the First Secretary of State dismissed their appeals but extended the compliance period by two years. However during this time the number of caravans on the site increased significantly.

  • 2005 - Council resolved that direct action was necessary:

In June 2005, once the two-year compliance period had lapsed, the council resolved that direct action was necessary to secure compliance with the notices.

It was this decision (reconsidered in December 2007) that was then made the subject of Judicial Review proceedings, which were heard in February 2008.

  • 2008-2009 - High Court proceedings and subsequent appeal:

The High Court found that Basildon Council's decision to proceed with direct action was unlawful. The Council then appealed this decision to the Court of Appeal in December 2008.

The Court of Appeal overturned the High Court decision and found that the Council's decision was lawful.

The travellers' representatives then sought permission to appeal to the House of Lords. This was refused in June of 2009. That decision brought the legal challenge on planning grounds to a close.

  • Since 2009 - Council plans and prepares for site clearance:

Since that date, the council has, alongside planning and preparing for the site clearances here and elsewhere in the borough, sought to find a means by which the travellers could leave the site without the need for a forced site clearance.

The council has also been through a significant procurement process to appoint bailiffs to carry out the operation.