District Council defends ‘meaningless’ housing figures

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Figures which appear to restrict the number of new homes that could be built across East Lindsey aren’t worth the paper they are written on, it has been claimed.

A key element of the district council’s long-awaited Local Plan is the number of homes allocated to individual towns and villages over the next five years.

It was widely thought the figure would act as a barrier to over-development amid fears popular towns and villages could be swamped.

Louth - and many surrounding villages - have already been targeted by developers ahead of the Local Plan coming into force.

In Louth, for example, there is mounting concern about the hundreds of new homes planned for the ‘southern gateway’.

Campaigners successfully fought off an application by developers Gladman a couple of years ago but now a fresh application has been submitted to East Lindsey District Council (ELDC) for the Legbourne Road area.

In Woodhall Spa, parish councillors were so concerned about the danger of over-development in their village, they held a recent meeting with leading planning officials at ELDC.

At that meeting, it was confirmed housing supply numbers in the Local Plan are a minimum and that there is effectively no limit to the number of homes that could be built in individual communities - provided applications meet planning criteria.

Woodhall Spa was allocated 341 homes but local councillors have labelled that figure as ‘meaningless’.

The situation in Woodhall Spa could arguably be rolled out across the rest of the district.

However, ELDC has issued a statement in which the authority stresses it has always pointed out housing supply numbers are a minimum.

The statement says: “We have actively consulted with town and parish councils on the emerging Local Plan and has always been clear that the number of houses allocated to communities is a minimum and not a maximum.

“The council is not able to limit housing growth in the area; but it considers each planning application on its own merits and in line with Planning Policy.

“Woodhall Spa Parish Council has confirmed with ELDC that it is fully aware that the housing figures are a minimum requirement and that all planning applications for housing will be considered based on the harm that they cause in planning policy terms - and also the five year housing supply at the point in time when an application comes forward.”

The Local Plan - a blueprint for all development in East Lindsey - has still to be approved by a Government inspector before it is adopted.

Previous draft Local Plans have been knocked back with the number of new homes proving to be one of the main stumbling blocks.