Parish councillors in Woodhall Spa have revealed their fears about the impact hundreds of new homes could have on the village and warned: “There’s a risk of killing the golden goose!”
Woodhall is a major inland tourist destination and is recognised as one of England’s most picturesque villages.
It has been subject of a number of major planning applications and a campaign group battling to preserve the village say it is ‘under siege.’
Parish councillors fear Woodhall is in danger of losing its charm. They claim over-development will drive tourists away, have a negative impact on existing house prices and damage the ‘economic health of the village’.
Councillors also say they have ‘grave concerns’ over the impact on services.
In a statement, the council says: “We are engaged in in-depth discussions with ELDC on the future of the village, housing numbers and the need to pace development with infrastructure improvements and hopes to be able to report back to the village on the outcome of those discussions, and where we go next, in April or possibly at the Annual Parish Meeting on May 9.
“One key point we put across at every opportunity (and to ELDC as well) is that over-development runs the risk of ‘killing the golden goose’.
“If the village loses its charm and the desirable characteristics that draw people to want to live here and that encourages tourism, then both potential house buyers and tourists will look elsewhere with the inevitable impact on house prices and the economic health of the village.
“This message doesn’t always sink in!”
The statement comes as developers have submitted an application for 150 homes off Witham Road.
The applicants are Welton-based agents Ryland Design Services Limited on behalf of Jackson Brothers (Lincoln) Ltd. They already have outline permission for a 150-house development in an adjoining field.
The parish council says it will object to the latest application on many grounds including access and concerns about over-development.
The latest application was discussed at the February meeting of the parish council.
More than 20 people attended and the council says residents were not aware of the plans for an additional 150 homes and reacted with ‘surprise and anger’.
The council adds that it was made aware of the additional homes when it held talks with the applicant in December.
In a statement, the council adds that since learning of the homes, it was ‘explicit’ about telling the developers the negative impact their plans would have.
Andrew Allison, managing director of Ryland Design Services, confirmed there were no initial plans for the additional development but that the land had since become available.
He added: “We are now delighted to be able to submit an application for a low density development as we believe it is by far the most appropriate location for expansion in Woodhall.
“The site is close to the hub of the village which is within relatively easy walking and cycling distance but despite its central location, it would not be unduly visually evident from Witham Road and the village in general.”
Mr Allison said the development would include a proportion of low-cost housing which would help couples and families buy their first homes - in line with a initiative to combat what he termed a ‘national housing shortage’.
He said the development would include a new cycle path and that many other planned features would ‘greatly enhance’ the area and were included in the local Neighbourhood Development Plan.
He stressed developers would be expected to make a ‘large financial contribution’ towards local services including health and education.
We have agreed to construct a cycle path, at our expense, all the way from the proposed development site across the fields up to The Witham at Kirkstead which will link up with the existing cycleway along the River . In addition to the cycle path, areas of green Open Space, landscaping , woodland walks and links to the public footpath will all greatly enhance the general location . All of these are features that are generally promoted within the Woodhall Spa Neighbourhood Plan. We will be expected to make large financial contributions towards health services, education and water and drainage infrastructure in line with specific local requirements and we will be providing a proportion of much needed affordable housing which will help young couples and families buy their first homes in the light of a well-publicised, national housing shortage. We are also intending to build a substantial number of bungalow/ chalet bungalow type properties which we expect to be particularly popular with elderly people downsizing.
The News approached Ryland Design Services for a comment....