Horncastle has missed out on health funding

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Horncastle has very little chance of clawing back thousands of pounds which would have boosted the town’s health services.

That is the message from one of the area’s top planning officers amid increasing concerns the town has missed out on vital funding.

The News revealed last week that money had potentially slipped through the net after NHS officials failed to attend an important planning inquiry.

The inquiry - chaired by a Government inspector - gave the go-ahead for hundreds of new homes at Langton Hill.

The inspector imposed a number of Section 106 conditions which effectively mean developers will have to pay specific amounts to improve the town’s infrastructure.

Conditions were put in place for contributions to education and a proposed new astro turf sports pitch.

However, it appears health services have missed out.

In a letter sent to the Town Council, East Lindsey District Council’s lead planning officer Chris Panton said the inspector lacked evidence to make an order regarding health care.

Mr Panton states: “With regard to the health contribution, I understand no-one from the NHS attended the inquiry and the inspector noted he had no information about any spare capacity at present.

“On the basis of the information before him, he therefore had no evidence that a contribution towards health care provision was necessary.”

Town councillor Stewart Attwood has already hit out at the situation, saying he feared Horncastle had missed out on a “substantial chunk” of funding.

Councillors heard that developers of a 86-home site off Louth Road would pay £32,000 towards local health care . The Langton Hill site will feature 300 homes.

Meanwhile, Mr Panton’s latter also reveals details about the Section 106 order attached to the Langton Hill development for the provision of education.

He said Lincolnshire County Council justified a contribution for secondary school/sixth form provision but according to the inspector’s report didn’t seek an order for primary schools because “there is available capacity.”

He also outlines the contribution towards the Astro Turf sports surface because there is a “low level of pitch provision in the town.”

Mr Panton advised the Town Council that it is possible to challenge the inspectors‘s decision in the High Court.

However, he writes: “You have to do that within six weeks of the decision. However, the success rate for such challenges is low and they can be very expensive.”

Mr Panton stresses he was not at the inquiry and can only comment on the inspector’s findings included in a report.

Sources have indicated it is unlikely the Town Council will take the matter further, not least because of the financial implications.

With regard to planning conditions, Mr Panton admits it is the responsibility of ELDC’s enforcement team.

Despite criticism of the enforcement process at a recent Town Council meeting, Mr Panton insists ELDC does “pro-actively chase” developers.

He goes on to say it is “helpful” when ELDC receives information from local communities about noncompliance.