Council plots restrictions to bring Buckles Lane down in size

By Neil Speight

19th Feb 2020 | Local News

Cllr Andrew Jefferies. Aerial picture by John McLellan.
Cllr Andrew Jefferies. Aerial picture by John McLellan.

OFFICERS have reported back on their plans to deal with planning infringements on the Buckles Lane mobile home site in South Ockendon, which has grown massively in recent years.

It is now believed to be the largest traveller site in Europe and is home to more than 1,000 people, many of them neither travellers or show people.

The site's origins were to provide a home for members of the travelling show people community but it has grown and grown and been illegally expanded several times.

Many of the homes are now being rented out to immigrants, with the site containing a substantial eastern European community.

That prompted Ockendon Conservative councillor Andrew Jefferies to successfully get a motion through Thurrock Council calling for action.

His motion said: "This Council notes with concern the alleged violation of planning regulations at Buckles Lane in South Ockendon, which includes unlawful development in the greenbelt.

"Members therefore call on the Council to bring forward a report detailing violations, what action has been taken to date and how the authority will address planning infringements at Buckles Lane, including via the use of further enforcement proceedings, whilst protecting the Showmen community."

At next week's meeting members will hear what has happened since the motion was approved in September.

They will be told: "Part of the site is long established and is allocated as a show people site, however in recent years the site has been sub-divided and extended with further unauthorised development and non-show people have found accommodation on the site without permission which has created cramped living conditions and incidences of public disorder.

"Recent attempts to introduce further mobile homes onto the eastern part of the site without permission have been prevented by the Council through injunctive action.

"Through the Council's review of the site, genuine show people have been receptive and keen to engage with the Council to achieve a permanent permission for the site.

"The Council has adopted a multi-disciplinary approach to the case and is committed to working with land owners to bring forward planning applications to create a safe and well-designed residential environment for the showmen community in Thurrock. This approach is supported by the Showmen's Guild who we have been closely liaising with.

The Council recognises its role as part of a wider collective to ensure all aspects of the case are addressed. A cross-service group of officers now meet regularly, tasked with the responsibility of considering the full range of issues affecting the site.

"A dedicated project manager for Buckles Lane joined the Council in January 2020 providing further resource and momentum to the case."

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