LETTER: Questions for Horncastle’s planning committee

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In response to the last paragraphs of Councillor Barker’s letter, Horncastle News, 5th February, I would like to ask Councillor Barker if we can rest assured that the Planning Committee has used all of their professional skills and expertise when considering the planning application for the development to the west of Churchill Avenue.

The Town Council have given their full backing to this development, despite this land being on a flood plain. Under the new Government Planning Guidance, the classification of secondary flood plain has been dropped. However Nature pays no attention to words and policy. A piece of land that floods will always flood when too much rain falls. All the proposed flood defence works are to the north of town, on the higher ground, not to the low lying south which historically and currently is the town flood plain and where these 106 homes are to be sited. So the question stands. Has the right guidance been given to East Lindsey District Council?

I am sure that at some point we will be pilloried for objecting to this proposed Social Housing development for a hundred and one reasons, but the truth here for once is not stranger than the fiction.

Does no one else apart from us find it odd that in these times of national flooding disasters, a housing development is being planned for a flood plain?

Why are there no details of raised footings or raised earthen banks to protect this development?

How do soakaways work to get rid of excess water? We welcome the recently installed water monitoring points in the field, but how does knowing average water table levels help in times of flood?

How does it make sense to knock down 3 blocks of flats that have housed 36 individual families and retired people, only to rebuild them? Access of course is the answer, as the farming access was too narrow, but all three blocks?

One of the blocks is already empty and had all its services capped off ready for demolition. Why would Waterloo homes do this unless they knew this development was going to be passed ahead of the actual decision?

The net gain of social housing is in fact 70 not 106, and Horncastle needs about 400. So does knocking down 36 flats instead of 12 really make sense?

Does having a meeting at Ancaster house for the residents of these flats about the proposed development really constitute an open and transparent attitude for the residents and the rest of Horncastle? It is this question that really forms the centre of our objection, on two main counts.

Firstly, proposing building anything on a flood plain goes against common sense. Be it Social housing, Executive style homes, or a Palace for the Queen. Flooding is a part of our landscape and our weather, and this certainly seems to be happening more often. Having Delegated Powers and Rural Exemptions at the Planning Office HQ, does not mean this piece of land is a sound place to house anybody. It is not as if Horncastle is short of land within the Town Boundary that could be built on.

The last time this field flooded was 1987. Right up to the fencing of the existing properties. So why would it not happen again? And when it does, not if it does, and this development puts in an insurance claim for flood damage, it will be the rest of Horncastle that can look forward to long term increases in their home and contents insurance premiums. So how is this looking after our best interests?

Lastly, concerns the archaeological potential of this land. The survey turned up more finds and hints of what lies here than ever expected. Read the Horncastle News of 5th Feb on page 15 and this land is crying out for a full and comprehensive survey. Most of the roman ruins in town are now built over and lost forever. This should not be allowed to happen here. It would be a total loss and waste of opportunity for Horncastle and our knowledge of Roman times if it is not carried out.

So we hope Coun Barker will use all of his skills and energies to make sure we as a town are protected from poor land choices that have a good chance of causing flooded misery to the proposed106 new families and tenants; of costing all the Horncastle residents unnecessary monetary costs through increased insurance by having no flood defences included, and that the whole town benefits from the knowledge that can be gained from what lies underground before it too is lost forever.

Janet and Stephen Lister.

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