Louth Town Council has withdrawn its support for four new bungalows on a controversial site in the town, after being re-consulted following a complaint from a campaigner.
As reported previously, the town council’s planning committee - which is a consultee to the planning authority at East Lindsey District Council - voted to support the housing application on the Julian Bower site when they met on Tuesday, August 23.
Their initial support for the proposal came in spite of campaigners’ claims that the site could be of great historical and archeological importance - possibly the site of the Anglo-Saxon ‘Sidnacester’ cathedral, which has been lost and sought for more than 1,000 years.
One of the councillors who voted in support of the housing application was Coun Margaret Ottaway, who is a trustee for the KEVIS Trust – which owns the land – having been nominated by Louth Town Council itself.
Campaigner Prisca Furlong, who attended the meeting on August 23, saw this as a conflict of interest and made a formal complaint to ELDC’s monitoring officer – who agreed that Coun Ottaway’s involvement in discussions ‘could be seen as a conflict of interest and a decision in which she should not have taken part’.
The monitoring officer added that Coun Ottaway “has expressed regret for not having appreciated that a conflict may have existed”.
Coun Ottoway also told The Leader she always acts in ‘good faith’ and was not speaking on behalf of the charity.
As a result of the monitoring officer’s investigation, the town council was re-consulted on the matter at a subsequent planning committee meeting on Tuesday, October 18.
Couns Margaret Ottaway, Pauline Watson, Sue Locking and Eileen Ballard – who are all Trustees at the KEVIS Trust – left the meeting prior to the discussion taking place on the Julian Bower application, and thus did not speak or vote on the item.
The remaining councillors were instructed by the chairman that, while they would be aware of the local strength of feeling on this application, they should keep an open mind on their decision until all of the discussions had been concluded.
Ultimately, a majority of the remaining councillors voted against the planning application.
Although it was not a ‘recorded vote’, it is understood that four councillors voted in favour of the planning application, while seven voted against it.
The various grounds for objection included potential flood risk for neighbouring homes, inadequete designs, overlooking into existing properties and loss of sporting facility land - in addition to the fact that the full archaeological potential of the land is still in question and ought to be fully investigated.
The planning application will now return to ELDC’s Planning Committee for a final decision to be made.