Campaigners battling to halt a controversial housing development in Louth have been warned - “Watch out, it could be you next”.
Developers Gladman - and landowners AR and MA Prigeon - are currently appealing a decision by East Lindsey District Council to reject plans for almost 1,000 new homes at a site off Legbourne Road.
The appeal comes just days after ELDC suffered a major setback after losing a similar action against Gladman in Horncastle.
Just like Louth, the Horncastle application - for 300 homes on Langton Hill - had attracted widespread local opposition.
Residents and councillors in Horncastle had hoped the appeal would fail because of a number of issues including:
l fears of flooding
l increased pressure on the town’s services including health and schools
l poor access
However, after a two week hearing, an independent inspector – appointed by the Government - has ruled in favour of Gladman and the landowners.
David Rice, one of the leading figures in a campaign group against the Horncastle development, said: “My message to Louth is watch out - you could be next.
“We thought we had a strong case but looking back, we were probably scuppered from the start.
“At the end of the day, these developments are all about money. What local people think - or want - doesn’t seem to matter. So much for localism.
“The inspector was hog-tied. The Government wants new homes to be built and it i s going to happen, like it or not.”
ELDC was strongly criticised for its performance in the Horncastle appeal with one town council describing the authority as “inept.”
Councillor Craig Leyland, ELDC’s Portfolio Holder with responsibility for planning, has defended the authority.
He has promised a strong defence in the Louth application and hit out at the inspector’s decision regarding Langton Hill.
He said: “We are extremely disappointed. We had a very robust case, well presented by our team and supported by local people.
“The Inspector identified harm that would be caused to the character and appearance of the landscape, but felt that benefits of the scheme outweighed that harm.
“Clearly we, alongside many local people, disagree wholeheartedly with that view.”
Sources close to ELDC have told The Leader that the authority felt much more confident about the Horncastle appeal than Louth.
The Horncastle application was initially rejected by the council’s planning officers, without ever reaching the committee stage.
However, in Louth, planning officers had recommended approval but the committee - comprised of councillors - went against that advice.
At the time, senior planner Chirs Panton warned that some of the councillors’ concerns would not ‘stand up’ at appeal.
If ELDC loses the Louth appeal, it could be left with hefty six figure bill to cover legal costs.
Meanwhile, Coun Leyland has admitted that Louth could be exposed to other developments because of further delays in ELDC producing a key housing strategy plan, covering the next 15 years.