Businesses fear by-pass could ruin Horncastle’s shops

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The battle to secure a new bypass for Horncastle has taken a twist after a recently launched organisation warned it could ruin businesses in the town.

There have been various calls for a bypass and a decision by Lincolnshire County Council in connection with the proposed Crowders housing development has sparked a new wave of interest.

The County Council is objecting to plans for up to 500 homes off Lincoln Road because of the impact on traffic at two major junctions in the town - West Street and the Bull Ring.

Both junctions feature theA158 which has again been grid-locked in recent weeks .

Resident Andrew Neal says the County Council decision highlights the need for a new by-pass.

He has won influential support from a number of people including town mayor and county councillor Bill Aron.

Coun Aron says he has shown MP Victoria Atkins the town’s traffic ‘hot spots’ and she, in turn, has made ‘representations’ to various authorities - particularly concerning funding.

However, Lucy Roberts - who heads a new organisation representing Horncastle’s businesses , said she was concerned about the impact of a bypass.

Ms Roberts told the News: “Business owners are very aware of the traffic issues.

“However, we all rely on passing trade. It is impossible to survive on local custom.

“A lot of businesses really struggled when Jubilee Way opened.

“It could be years before a by-pass is built but the concern is it will taken even more trade away from the town.

“If people want to see a thriving, prosperous town, I’d urge them to think about the impact a by-pass would have on businesses.”

Ms Roberts is already calling on authorities to improve signage from the A158 into the town centre.

She added: “It (signage) is not good enough and people aren’t even aware of everything Horncastle has to offer.

“The town has some great shops, restaurants and cafes but most people just drive straight by.”

Meanwhile, Mr Neal is pressing ahead with his campaign. He has received a letter from Coun Richard Fry, ELDC’s policy holder for planning, who indicates he understands the traffic issue but warns delivering a by-pass would be a ‘major strategic undertaking’ - not least with regard to funding.

You are correct about Lincolnshire County Councils response to the Crowders

planning application. The piece of work carried out by LCC on that application

has raised the issue of a potential bypass for Horncastle and by this inference it

must be presumed that this is one of the options LCC could consider and

support. You are also correct about the number of existing commitments for

housing in Horncastle.

However, delivering a bypass is a major strategic undertaking, whose planning

and funding would occur over a long period of time. The need for a bypass

cannot be associated with the existing housing commitments in Horncastle

because LCC did not object to those planning applications and it is not possible

to retrofit harm to a planning permission. The Council has already determined

that the need for housing made through those commitments has been met for at

least the next plan period of 15 years. In fact from 1981 till now including the

big housing boom of the early 80`s the average build rate in the town is 38

houses a year. This would indicate that the existing commitments may take the

town into the next plan period.

LCC has suggested that the bypass could be funded by additional housing

allocated to the town over and above the main District wide allocation. Given

the cost of any bypass this would have to be a substantial allocation, more than

any other settlement in the District and on the size of an urban town extension.

This could have a fundamental impact on the town which would require

substantial investigation and evidence gathering. Given the slow housing growth

rate in the town it could be many years for housing to even start to contribute to

any funding. It would also undermine the deliverability of the Local Plan, in that

a large amount of housing (that allocated in Horncastle) would not be delivered

because there actually was no need for it. This is because the population of the

District grows mainly through in migration of older people. It is not possible for

the Council to determine exactly where these people will want to live in the way

you would with natural population growth. This is why the Council allocates its

housing based on a percentage of the number of households in each sustainable

settlement. To suddenly over allocate in one settlement would not automatically

mean that all our in migrants would come and live in Horncastle; there is a very

strong likelihood backed up by evidence that they would not. Therefore the

issue of additional housing is very problematic and one I believe the Council

would resist at the present time.

Secondly, you have spoken in your letter about coastal access and the Council

does agree that Horncastle is a route that is used to gain access to the coast.

Seeking funding from national sources for a bypass based on coastal access and

growing the coastal economy could be a way forward to fund a bypass.

However, work needs to be done on the evidence to support this, looking along

all the access routes to the coast and other means of access such as rail and bus

usage. At the present time there is no evidence that Horncastle should be dealt

with as a priority before anywhere else that has access issues to get to the coast

and no evidence that the coastal economy is suffering because of a lack of

access. Given the large amount of funding that will be required, national

funders will want to see robust and substantial evidence to support any bid. The

responsibility and lead for this work would lie with LCC as the Highway Authority

and with the LEP for any funding bids. The Local Plan has a five year review in it

and there are a number of projects to be undertaken during this period, one of

which being mooted is a piece of work around evidencing the need for improved

coastal access, the Council will of course strongly support this.

There should be no need to safeguard land for any bypass at the present time

because whilst every application is judged on its own merits, technically any

major applications that come forward would add to the impact on the Bull Ring

junction and therefore it would be presumed that they should be objected to by

LCC in the same way as Crowders, in that there is a severe impact on the

junction. Also there has been to date no feasibility work done on any route and

no firm proposals put forward. The matter of any proposed route can be

addressed when the Local Plan is reviewed in 5 years if necessary.

Yours sincerely Richard Fry

Ward Member for Binbrook

Portfolio Holder for Planning

East Lindsey District Council

Whilst I may agree with what Gerry says about Cllr Aron and his reasons for involvement, I do not agree with his views concerning the bypass. His statement of “no hope” is a typical Horncastle answer. We are trying to plan for the future and we MUST put a stake in the ground now. Agreement in principle that there is a requirement, agreed routing to protect it from development would be a small cost. Inclusion within an highway infrastructure plan for the next 20 years would be what LCC Highways should be aiming for!