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BASILDON Council has taken enforcement action against a landowner after discovering green belt land in Wickford had been developed without planning permission.
The council said it had been alerted to development on green land at Hillview, on the Southend Arterial Road.
The site is on the outskirts of the Hovefields and Honiley neighbourhood, which has faced a long-running battle against unlawful Gypsy and Traveller developments on green belt land.
Civil servants investigated and found 10 caravans on the site.
Chris Jackman, former Tory councillor for the area, described the unauthorised development as ‘an I told you so moment’ for himself and some local residents, who had supported plans to develop the site last year.
Basildon Council received an application for planning permission in 2018 to demolish a derelict building on the land and build a new, two-storey, five-bedroom home with two double garages.
Mr Jackman wrote to Basildon Council and asked it to permit the development, saying it would ward off unlawful incursions, which had previously been experienced on the site.
But the council refused planning permission, saying it would result in ‘a significant loss of openness of the green belt’.
Mr Jackman told the YA: “The only objector was the council’s own planning department.”
Residents of Hovefields and Honiley have repeatedly asked the council to permit residential development of green belt in the area, as it would improve infrastructure for existing properties and end the blight of unlawful incursions.
But no such provision was included in the Local Plan, signed off by last year’s Conservative administration, which also included a policy to legalise existing unlawful traveller encampments, in order to avoid building any new, authorised sites.
Long-serving Cllr Jackman was so outraged by the decision that he quit as a councillor.
Labour council leader Gavin Callaghan said of the latest discovery: “Council officers have attended the site and found 10 caravans stationed on five pitches, which are still under construction by laying hard surfacing and the installation of fencing.
“They appear to be being prepared for the stationing of caravans for residential occupation.
“We have taken swift and decisive action to address the unauthorised development by issuing a Stop Notice under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.
“Our officers will continue to monitor the site to ensure the notice is complied with.”