Church’s ‘secret land deals’ in Hogsthorpe claim

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The Church’s main financial body has been accused of making ‘secret deals’ with the planning authority to sell land for ‘inappropriate’ housing developments in Hogsthorpe.

Parish chairman Coun Richard Enderby says he was shocked to learn the Church Commissioners had offered land in the village as part of East Lindsey District Council’s latest housing strategy.

“What’s really annoyed the village is that the Church Commissioners have been talking to East Lindsey for some considerable time behind everyone’s back trying to flog a piece of land that might totally change the character of Hogsthorpe,” he said.

Coun Enderby learnt that discussions over the field - located in the centre of the village and valued at around £5 million - had been ongoing since 2008, but not even Father Terry Bardell, the local reverend, was aware of them.

Head of strategic land investment at the Church Commissioners for England John Weir said it was ‘premature’ to begin worrying about the land as it was not yet up for sale.

“We have land, the local authority needs housing, they’ve allocated land for housing and we’ve supported that ,” he said.

The parish council believes the land offer was seized upon by the district council when producing its housing strategy, resulting in Hogsthorpe being incorrectly classed as a ‘large village’ and lumbered with a potential 80 new homes - adding nearly a third to the village’s current size.

Coun Enderby insists he is not against new housing, where appropriate, but fears the scale of it earmarked for Hogsthorpe would put undue strain on local amenities and has not been matched by economic development.

“What’s the point of plonking a load of houses somewhere where there’s no jobs?” he asked. He believes the district council has deliberately skewed its classification so that it can use the offered land in its assessment.

An ELDC spokesperson said: “Classification of villages is carried out by a points system. Each facility or service in the village is given a number of points which are added up. We’re happy to discuss Mr Enderby’s concerns directly with him.”