Horncastle councillors shrug off criticism of town plan

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Town councillors in Horncastle have given their ‘100 per backing’ to a key planning document amid claims it is a waste of public money.

Some residents have criticised the town’s Neighbourhood Development Plan as “not being worth the paper it is written on.”

They say it is not ‘site specific’ and crucially fails to identify areas of land for new housing,

They add the limitations of the plan were exposed in recent decisions to grant major housing developments at Langton Hill and Mareham Road.

Figures obtained by the News last week showed the plan has so far cost around £47,000 with the vast majority of the money being contributed by the town council.

The plan is close to completion and a public consultation period ended earlier this month.

The document has still to pass a public referendum - and scrutiny by ELDC - before being adopted by the Government as a legal document.

At a meeting last week, Town Councillor David Roark called on his colleagues to back the new plan.

Coun Roark - a member of the steering committee that drew up the plan - described it as outstanding.

He revealed there had been 140 responses during the public consultation and the vast majority had been positive.

He said there had only been ‘one or two’ negative responses and praised other steering committee members for two years of hard work and dedication.

He said: “As a council, we should give it our 100 per cent backing.”

Coun Roark stressed many other authorities had failed to get a single response during their public consultation process.

He rejected claims that the fact the plan was not site specific would cause problems.

He also indicated that in regard to Langton Hill, a planning inspector had not utilised the plan because it was not yet a legally registered document.

However, Coun Stewart Attwood said he felt the plan did “sell the town short” by failing to include specific development sites.

He asked whether it was possible to “add a couple of chapters” and include land for new housing.

Coun Attwood added he thought residents who raised concerns about content of the plan at a recent meeting had “valid concerns.”

However, Coun Roark said including specific development sites would effectively mean starting the whole process from scratch.

He confirmed that initially, it was intended for the plan to be site specific but said that after advice from consultants employed by to help finalise the document, it was decided to “alter course”.

Steering committee chairman Rod Sambrook assured councillors that similar plans in other areas had been registered as legal documents.

He also said Horncastle would be able to say ‘no’ to developers - once the plan was legally adopted.

Councillors voted to back the plan and send a letter to the steering committee, thanking them for their hard work.