Leader defends ELDC over new homes row

Langton Hill development site
Langton Hill development site

East Lindsey District Council leader Craig Leyland has launched a staunch defence of the authority’s planning process after claims the views of local people are totally ignored.

The council has come under fire for approving a number of major housing developments in towns and villages.

Some town and parish councils say communities are under threat from new projects which put pressure on already-creaking infrastructures,including education and heath services.

Coun Leyland recent spoke out against two proposed developments in his home village Woodhall Spa but both applications received outline permission - despite strong opposition from residents and the parish council.

At a meeting of Horncastle Town Council, Coun Leyland faced a barrage of questions from residents who were unhappy with the decisions making process.

One lady said she had written to former Prime Minister David Cameron who had assured her that district councils should look at all applications for a specific community on a ‘collective basis’.

She told Coun Leyland that was ‘something East Lindsey never does’. She added: “I want to praise our town council because they treat an application on its own merit. They listen to people in the town but if they (the town council) says no you (ELDC) totally ignores everything.

“You (ELDC) have given permission for more than 850 new houses in this town and you have ignored every objection to them.”

Coun Leyland said he could understand why people are concerned but stressed the district council had to meet housing targets set by the Government.

He also said it was increasingly difficult for ELDC to turn down applications - if there were no objections from lead agencies like the County Council’s Highways Department and Anglian Water.

He said: “It’s not unusual for town and parish councils - and the public - to object to applications.

“However, local planning authorities have to make a decision on material issues. We have targets given to us.

“Often in cases there are strong local feelings. Key issues residents raise with us are access and flood risk.

“But if lead agencies like Highways and Anglian Water say they have no objections it makes it very difficult for us.

“They are the experts. We have to listen to them.”

“If we turn down an application without sound reason and it goes to appeal, we could be ordered to pay substantial (legal) costs.

“If you have a number of appeals turned over, you will be put into special measures. There will be times when decisions go against local views. Unfortunately, that is how it is.”

Coun Leyland said ELDC’s long awaited Local Plan - which will hopefully be officially adopted in 2017 - would make if more difficult for developers to get permission on non-approved sites.