An application for listed status for a scaffolding structure at the gateway to the UK's largest illegal travellers' site has been rejected by the Government on the advice of English Heritage.
Campaigners fighting moves by Basildon Council to evict travellers from the Dale Farm complex in Essex argued that the ‘gateway’ was an "emblem of a struggle for traveller rights".
Heritage Minister John Penrose said he had accepted the advice of English Heritage and would not list the gate.
He said: "Although clearly a structure which is significant for the travellers at Dale Farm, the tubular steel, wood and rubber construction holds no special architectural or historic interest and does not therefore meet the criteria for listing."
The clearance of the Dale Farm site had been due to begin last week. However, an injunction preventing bailiffs moving in is currently in place while legal appeals are heard at the High Court.
The planned clearance follows a decade-long row over 51 unauthorised pitches on the six-acre travellers' site.
The leader of Basildon Council, Tony Ball, said the listing move made a mockery of the planning process.
"There are already several beautiful, architecturally significant and historical buildings with listed status within the Basildon borough that we are proud of," he said.
"Considering Dale Farm is in breach of planning regulations, and with the ongoing health and safety concerns regarding the barricade, this is clearly another attempt to make a mockery of the planning process and laws of the land that apply to everyone."
Meanwhile, in a separate but related development, Community’s Secretary Eric Pickles has allowed on appeal plans for a major extension to a caravan site for travellers at a Green Belt site near Doncaster but refused a change of use for a 10-caravan scheme at a Green Belt location in Essex.
The successful scheme involved plans for 10 double-plots and five shared amenity plots on a paddock next to an existing caravan site at Sutton, near Doncaster, opposed by the metropolitan borough council.
The minister accepted the recommendation of the planning inspector who argued that although the location was inappropriate the scheme would only cause “moderate harm” to the openness of the Green Belt and was justified because of the urgent need for settled accommodation in the locality.
In the case of the Essex proposals for Green Belt land at Nazeing, Essex, the minister agreed with the planning inspector who recommended dismissing the appeal over a 10-caravan site refused earlier by Epping Forest District Council.
The decision letter said the proposal would be harmful to the Green Belt (loss of openness, effect on visual amenity and a material degree of encroachment) and that a special justification for a temporary permission did not apply in the circumstances.
29 September 2011