Even more houses could be on the way says ELDC planning boss

Coun Craig Leyland (right) meets members of Horncastle Town Council's Planning Commitee
Coun Craig Leyland (right) meets members of Horncastle Town Council's Planning Commitee

Residents in Horncastle have been warned to brace themselves for the prospect of yet more large-scale housing developments.

The warning came from East Lindsey District Council’s planning supremo Craig Leyland.

Coun Leyland admitted the town will be ‘wide open’ to developers, largely because a key planning policy document is still not ready to be adopted.

Coun Leyland revealed officials at ELDC are still drawing up a long-awaited Core Strategy Plan.

The plan is essentially a blueprint for all housing development across the district for the next 15 years.

It will identify potential development sites and the number of homes that can be built in specific towns and villages.

The plan needs to go through a public consultation process and then be approved by the Government.

Although ELDC is facing calls to finalise the document, Coun Leyland said it would be ‘reckless’ to submit it now.

Coun Leyland said: “Until the plan is approved, then yes, Horncastle - and other communities - will be wide open to speculative developers coming into the area.

“However, until we have all the relevant information, it would be entirely reckless to proceed.”

Coun Leyland pointed out ELDC’s previous Core Strategy had been rejected by an inspector and there was “every chance” a flawed follow up would suffer the same fate.

He said ELDC was still waiting for information regarding two key elements of the finalised document - a housing supply number and a county-wide traffic survey.

He accepted that even if the information was available, it could be months before the final plan is ratified.

Coun Leyland was speaking at a meeting with Horncastle Town Council’s Planning Committee.

Town councillors asked for the meeting amid increasing concerns about the number of new housing schemes.

They also wanted an explanation behind ELDC’s rationale when it came to passing or rejecting applications.

Ironically, the meeting took place just 48 hours before ELDC lost an appeal by Gladman for 300 new homes at Langton Hill.

Coun Leyland told the meeting latest estimates suggested Horncastle would have to cope with additional 869 new homes over the next 15 years - if the Core Strategy is approved.

He said that figure would be reduced because permission had already been given for 264 dwellings - or 564 if the Langton Hill allocation is included.

Coun Leyland accepted there were concerns from residents and councillors about the town’s already over stretched infra-structure.

At the same time, he stressed ELDC was under pressure to meet national Government housing targets.

He pointed out one problem was the Government appeared to make little distinction about the demand for new homes in the South East compared to rural Lincolnshire.

He again warned sanctions could be imposed on ELDC, if the authority fell short of meeting that Government figure.

Coun Leyland stressed outside agencies were responsible for the on-going delay with the Core Strategy - not ELDC.

He also called on bodies like the County Council’s Highways Department and the Environmental Agency to become more involved and transparent in the planning process.

Questioned by town councillors, he admitted the document might not be completed - until after next May’s district elections.

Town councillor Maurice Lamb said people in Horncastle were against large scale developments, like Langton Hill.

Coun Leyland stressed planning officers would continue to listen to residents’ views but described not allowing any new development as ‘not an option.’