Horncastle councillor slams controversial Langton Hill homes decision

Councillors Bill Aron and Fiona Martin survey the scene at Horncastle's Langton Hill, soon to be the site of a major new housing development EMN-140712-204637001
Councillors Bill Aron and Fiona Martin survey the scene at Horncastle's Langton Hill, soon to be the site of a major new housing development EMN-140712-204637001
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Horncastle councillor Fiona Martin has described a controversial decision to allow 300 new homes to be built at Langton Hill as “bitterly disappointing.”

Coun Martin, a member of East Lindsey District Council’s planning committee, said she could not understand how a Government inspector had arrived at a ‘yes’ decision.

And, she accused the Government of “riding roughshod” over the opinions of local people.

Coun Martin admitted she was concerned the development would add to the strain on the town’s already struggling infra-structure.

And, she called on developers to stump up the cash for much needed improvements to local services including schools, transport and the health service.

In an exclusive interview, Coun Martin said: “I have to say I am bitterly disappointed with the decision and taking everything into account, I just don’t understand how the inspector arrived at it.

“I was elected to represent the views of local people and local people had spoken out against this development.

“To me, it just seems the Government is just riding roughshod over localism. How can that be right?”

Planning officers at ELDC threw out the initial application by Gladman for the Langton Hill site.

Residents - and the town council - had raised a number of concerns, not least potential flooding issues and the impact on overstretched local services.

There were others issues, including access. The decisive factor, though, was thought to be the fact the site is on a hill-top.

However, Gladman appealed the decision and a Government appointed inspector overturned ELDC’s refusal.

The inspector did attach a number of conditions. One source told the News this week that it could take £10m of investment before “a brick is even sunk into the ground.”

The inspector also reduced the number of homes that can be built on the site.

Nevertheless, the final figure of 300 homes adds to other recent applications including:

n 86 new homes at Louth Road

n More than 80 new homes currently under construction at Churchill Avenue

n Around 20 new homes off Bonnetable Road.

In addition, a scheme for 129 new homes at Mareham Road is due to go to appeal early in the New Year.

Again, ELDC refused that application but the developers and landowners have decided to challenge it. In total, the town could be bracing itself for almost 600 new homes - if they are all built.

Coun Martin said Horncastle’s infra-structure would not be able to cope with such a big rise in population, without substantial investment.

She added: “Schools are full and so are the doctors and dentists. One of my biggest concerns is flooding. The existing drainage system is struggling to cope now.

“You have to ask where are all the people are going to come from to buy these homes?”

Coun Martin stressed she and fellow town councillors were not against development, but said it had to be the “right homes in the right place.” She added: “East Lindsey and the town council have shown that by approving the new development at Louth Road.

“However, this (Langton Hill) is neither the right homes or the right place.”

Coun Martin said she agreed with ELDC’s planning supremo Craig Leyland who has warned the town could be facing even more large scale development.

Indeed, another area of land in the town could well be turned into housing.

A 5.43 acre site off Woodcock Lane has sold subject to contract.

According to the advertising specification, the land is currently classed as ‘suitable for housing’.

The asking price was £600,000.