Concerns raised over East Lindsey planning blueprints

ELDC headquarters in Manby.

ELDC headquarters in Manby.

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Storm clouds are gathering over East Lindsey District Council’s emerging Local Plan - the document that is being drawn up to provide a development blueprint for the district over the next couple of decades.

Councillors agreed to ‘pass’ the draft plan on to the next stage of approval – a six-week public consultation which will start on June 26.

But at a special full meeting of the council on Thursday, several councillors raised concerns about proposals which include all-new housing developments in the district and the provision for Gypsy/Traveller sites.

Coun Daniel McNally described the plan as ‘lacking in vision and full of restrictions’.

He said: “We seem to be saying ‘no, no, no’ to almost everything.”

Coun McNally went on to highlight inaccuracies and he was supported by Coun Neil Cooper who called on officers to eradicate ‘discrepancies, typos and other mistakes’ from the document.

Describing the draft plan as ‘fundamentally flawed’, Coun Cooper, who is chairman of the council’s planning committee, took particular objection to the way in which the Environment Agency’s flood risk strictures were limiting residential development opportunities on the coast – unless the homes are ‘affordable’ or social housing.

He said: “The supposition seems to be that it is OK for poor people to drown -–but not rich people.”

Coun Terry Aldridge and Coun Jim Swanson claimed the plan seems mostly to exclude the district’s 155 small and medium-sized villages from development potential.

Coun Jill Makinson-Sanders objected to the likely increase in development pressure on inland towns such as Louth and Horncastle where medical and other services are already under strain – and jobs limited.

She claimed it was unwise to keep building in chalky areas where ‘water comes up all over the place’.

Several members, including Coun Danny Brookes, expressed disquiet at the lack of clarity on proposed locations for Travellers’ sites.

Coun Richard Fry, who has masterminded the publication of the draft plan, in conjunction with the planning policy committee and senior planning officer Anne Shorland, struck a cautious note.

He said: “Many will feel it is not perfect, but as the old adage goes it is impossible to please everyone all of the time.”

He described the draft plan as an attempt to ‘encourage economic development and tourism while at the same time protecting the environment of our entirely delightful rural district’.

He claimed there would still be opportunities to build both in smaller settlements and on the coast but noted that there were already 1,300 undeveloped plots at the latter.

The plan still has to be approved be a Government inspector and if it fails to be ratified, Whitehall could impose tough new regulations.