Millions of pounds which would have transformed front-line services in Horncastle appears to have “disappeared down the drain” it has been claimed.
The News can reveal £248,000 - which had been earmarked to improve local health services - appears to have been lost after what has been described as the “fiasco” of the Langton Hill housing scheme.
However, that figure could just be the tip of the iceberg amid fears vital funding for education, roads and drainage could also have been lost.
The money would have come from Section 106 agreements which are attached to major housing developments.
Effectively, developers have to pay for improvements to front-line services.
In the case of Langton Hill, NHS England had ‘asked’ for £248,700 after a startling report from the Horncastle Medical Group.
The Group - the only doctors in Horncastle - say they already have 9,000 patients on their books.
They warn the addition of 300 homes at Langton Hill could increase the list by another 1,097 patients.
The Group added: “This increase would be too great to manage unless the current building and car parking facilities were extended and both non-clinical and clinical staffing levels were significantly increased.”
However, a planning inspector - appointed by the Government - refused to make an order for the £248.700 to be included as part of application, apparently because of ‘administrative blunder’.
Now, there are concerns Section 106 agreements were not set up attached to previous developments in the town.
And, even if agreements were in place, it is not clear what has happened to the money generated - or whether it was ever spent in Horncastle.
The startling news comes to light as two more major planning applications are planned for Horncastle - one near Brackenbury Close to the west of the town and the other to the east of the town on a site between Winceby Gardens and Thunker Drain.
That has increased fears about the pressure on Horncastle’s already under-pressure infrastructure.
The Langton Hill situation was discussed by Horncastle Town Council last week.
Councillor Stuart Attwood initially pointed the finger of blame at planners from East Lindsey District Council, describing them as a “shower”.
However, Coun Attwood later back-tracked after reading a full report on the inquiry into the proposed development.
Coun Attwood told the News there appeared to be confusion over the actual application with a figure of 499 homes put before the Government inspector - 300 homes at Langton Hill and another 199 homes at other developments.
However, Coun Attwood believes that because the inspector was only dealing with Langton Hill, he could not approve the request for £248,700.
Coun Attwood said the position was further complicated because there was no NHS representative at the inquiry.
A representative from the County Council’s Education Department was present - and a Section 106 agreement was duly put in place.
The News has seen a copy of an email sent by the Town Council to ELDC immediately after the outcome of the planning enquiry was made public, raising the apparent NHS oversight.
Despite that email, it appears no-one has taken responsibility to appeal the inspector’s decision.
Coun Attwood fears the deadline for appeals has expired, meaning the quarter of a million pounds has been lost.
He told the News: “It is a complete shambles - a scandal. I apologise for blaming East Lindsey because it appears there are other agencies involved, not least the NHS.
“I find it incredible they could not be bothered to send anyone.
“The whole thing is a scandal. This money would have benefitted Horncastle.
“It makes you wonder what has happened to previous Section 106 agreements and whether that money has ever come to Horncastle or whether it has just disappeared down the drain - or into a big black hole at Manby?
“We could be talking about hundreds of thousands or even millions of pounds.”
Coun Attwood said he would continue to push for answers but did not hold out much hope.
County Councillor Bill Aron, the chairman of the Town Council’s planning committee, said he planned to stage talks with ELDC about the situation.
He said: “As soon as I stepped in as chairman, one of the first things I did was ask for a meeting with Coun Craig Leyland (ELDC’s planning chief) to try to get an update regarding where they were with their local plan and the housing numbers.
“We were disappointed with his answers.
“We are arranging another meeting to find out in a lot more detail the sums of money for the various services such as education, health, highways and drainage, not just for the individual sites but for the town as a whole.
“ELDC planners need to be confident that they are doing their best for our town and be able to demonstrate this to us.
“We need to ensure Horncastle is getting the correct amount of contribution for each development and that the infrastructure can grow.”
along side the housing developments.
“We don’t want to find that we have been missing out on hundreds and thousands of pounds - that could have provided better healthcare, education and general infrastructure.”