Council fends off critics to support planning blueprint

Coun Stuart Attwood fears the Horncastle Neighbourhood Development Plan will be ignored by ELDC.
Coun Stuart Attwood fears the Horncastle Neighbourhood Development Plan will be ignored by ELDC.

A controversial planning document - which could shape the future of Horncastle - has been approved, despite a last ditch bid to derail it.

Town councillors voted to back the town’s Neighbourhood Development Plan which will now be submitted to East Lindsey District Council. However, the decision followed some heated exchanges between councillors and a leading critic of the plan at a Town Council meeting last week.

The Town Council has spent more than £40,000 helping a steering committee finalise the document, but critics claim it is a waste of money because it does not identify specific development sites.

The steering committee - which includes two serving Town Councillors - said the document will protect the town.

In a public forum before the meeting, ex-councillor Richard Barker slated the plan and said it left the door open for developers to build hundreds of homes.

Coun Rose Williams, a member of the steering committee, told Mr Barker the plan was a valid document.

She said it was decided not to make it site specific following advice from a consultant and ELDC.

She added another problem was ELDC had not finalised its core planning strategy, which will include all-important housing supply numbers.

Mr Barker told Coun Williams she was “not making any sense” but Coun Williams replied that Mr Barker was “not making any sense.”

Mr Barker also asked why Coun David Roark - another member of the steering committee - was refusing to comment in the forum.

Later in the meeting, Coun Angela Burchall asked whether it was possible to amend the plan because Horncastle was “in danger of becoming an urban sprawl” and “swallowing” villages like Thimbleby.

Coun Stuart Attwood said he feared the plan will be ignored by ELDC and would “just gather dust on a shelf.”

However, Coun Roark said amending the plan at such a late stage would mean “starting again.”

Several councillors said the plan was an impressive and well-written document but they agreed to write to ELDC expressing concerns about the number of proposed developments.