‘We are being held to hostage’

New housing (inset: Coun Craig Leyland). EMN-151019-112057001
New housing (inset: Coun Craig Leyland). EMN-151019-112057001

East Lindsey District Council is being ‘held to hostage’ by other organisations as it struggles to produce a vital planning document.

That is the claim of ELDC leader Craig Leyland amid mounting criticism of continued delays surrounding the completion of a Local Plan.

The plan is effectively a blueprint for all future development in East Lindsey and will identify land available for housing - and the number of dwellings that 
can be built in individual communities.

All district councils must submit a plan which must go through a public consultation and be approved by a Government appointed inspector.

Prime Minister David Cameron last week warned that councils which fail to have a plan adopted by 2017 will effectively have the decision-making process regarding planning issues taken out of their hands.

Coun Leyland admitted ELDC had put forward an outline plan in 2012 but an inspector had warned it ‘fell short’ in several key areas, including housing numbers and the provision for 
traveller sites.

Speaking at a meeting of Horncastle Town Council last week, Coun Leyland said it would be the end of next summer before the plan was likely to be ready to put forward, and that he was ‘optimistic’ ELDC would meet the Government’s 
deadline of 2017.

At the meeting, he was questioned by councillors and residents who are concerned developers are taking advantage of loopholes in current regulations to submit large scale housing developments.

Coun Leyland said he understood ‘all the frustration’ surrounding the Local Plan but said ELDC was not solely to blame.

He revealed ELDC officials responsible for drawing up the plan were waiting for key contributions from other agencies, including neighbouring district councils, Anglian Water and the County Council’s Highways department.

Coun Leyland said: “The process of finalising a Local Plan is a complicated and long drawn out process.

“We have to ensure we have a robust plan in place that will stand up to the most rigorous inspection by 
the Government.

“I can understand the frustration everyone has as all these applications (for new houses) are submitted.

“However, there is no point putting forward a weak and failing plan, only to 
have it rejected.

“We would be back to square one with potentially serious consequences for council taxpayers.”