Plan to build new Horncastle homes in the balance

The Committee for planning at East Lindsey District Council
The Committee for planning at East Lindsey District Council

East Lindsey District Council’s planning officers backed a major housing project in Horncastle, even though they had concerns over flood data.

Developers want to build 129 new homes off Mareham Road.

It is the first of a raft of applications which campaigners fear could lead to more than 800 new houses being built in the town.

The scheme was recommended for approval by ELDC’s planning officer Andy Allen, despite objections from Horncastle Town Council and many residents.

During a planning committee meeting last Thursday, Mr Allen and chief planning officer Chris Panton admitted they were “concerned” about some of the figures in a report submitted by developers which appeared to play down the risk of flooding.

Horncastle district councillor Fiona Martin, who had spoken out against the development, said she was surprised the data - which refereed to permeable drainage - had not been taken into account.

In the event, councillors refused to back the recommendation of their own officers and voted to defer a final decision.

They called for developers and agencies to submit more details.

The decision effectively means the application process is ‘deadlocked.’

Coun Richard Barker, chairman of Horncastle Town Council’s planning and development committee, also spoke out against the proposals.

After the meeting, he said he was “staggered” planners had recommended the scheme should go ahead, despite the risk of flooding.

Coun Barker said: “This shows what we are up against. The deferral offers some encouragement but this application should have been refused. It is flawed. There are all kinds of issues yet the planners still went ahead and backed it. It beggarsbelief.”

During a debate on the application, Coun Barker and Coun Martin raised issues about flooding, increased traffic and the impact the development on Horncastle’s already over-stretched infrastructure.

Coun Martin said she could not understand why Lincolnshire County Council’s Highways department had not raised concerns about the impact on roads.

She said the fact the county council had suggested alternative routes through housing estates and along ‘residents only’ routes show the person responsible for the report did not understand road conditions in the area.

She added: “The alternative routes suggested are not acceptable. There are traffic issues and it would just lead to even more rat runs being created.”

Coun Martin acknowleged developers had offered to pay £116,000 to improve local health services but said there were no details on how the money would be spent.

Regarding flooding, Coun Martin said she was concerned Thunker Drain would not cope and that, in turn, would increase the flood risk for the entire town.

She stressed the committee could not base a decision on flood data submitted in the report and added the application created “more questions than answers.”

Despite the concerns, Mr Panton said the scheme was “fair and proportionate.” He said the Environment Agency had not raised any issues regarding drainage.

Coun Edward Mossop said the commitee was ‘snookered’ because ELDC still had still not drawn up a core strategy plan which will identify how new homes can be built in communities - and exactly which sites can be developed.

On behalf of the applicant - Mrs A J Clark - Roger Sargeant told the commitee the application was the culmination of 13 years of work.

He said the developers were not opportunist developers and were local people who cared about the legacy they were creating.

Coun Barker hit out at ELDC for not producing a core strategy plan and revealed he feared even bigger applications were on the cards for land adjoining the proposed Mareham Road site.