Residents and planners cross swords as Lincoln village housing inquiry closes

A five-day public inquiry to make a final decision on a controversial application for 230 homes in a Lincoln village has drawn to a close, with developers and local residents still at odds over the proposals.

As previously reported, West Lindsey District Council refused plans submitted by Lindum Homes for the proposed estate off Church Lane in Saxilby in July 2014, which would have also included a retirement village of 60 homes, estate roads and open spaces.

The decision was appealed by the local house builders, with an inquiry called under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

The final day of the inquiry saw all sides put forward their closing arguments inside a packed Saxilby Village Hall.

In summing up, Lindum Homes said that the proposals would create “inclusive and mixed communities,” and create long-term jobs and prosperity sustainably.

Satnam Choongh, representing the developers, said: “It is accepted that Saxilby is one of the most sustainable locations within the district and the site is situated in a location accessible to all services and facilities.

“It will promote healthy communities by providing on site public open space and a large area of accessible public space.

“The younger generation needs access to affordable homes which this scheme will deliver. This development will deliver much-needed affordable housing – an ever-increasing priority for central government.

“The older generation requires the delivery of housing particularly suited to their needs. The delivery of 60 retirement homes is a unique benefit of this scheme which should be accorded substantial weight because it helps to meet the needs of that section of the community.”

As part of the proposed development, Lindum Homes would contribute £97,000 to healthcare provision in the village following a formula agreed with the NHS.

However, Lincolnshire County Council has not requested any funds for either education provision or to improve the highways.

The issue of transport, especially concerns about the A57 junction at Mill Lane, was one of the main reasons for refusal of the application by West Lindsey District Council.

The second aspect the council focused its defence on was the fears that the development would negatively impact on the rural character of the village.

The site of the proposed development. Photo: Google Street View

The site of the proposed development. Photo: Google Street View

Hashi Mohamed, a barrister speaking on behalf of the council, said: “The development of 230 new homes, in a county where the vast majority of people are likely to drive, will have a significant and detrimental impact on the local road system, in particular Church Lane.

“The narrowness of the road may well by within the required limits, but the reality on the ground is that the passing of HGVs and cars have regularly caused minor collisions and near misses.

“When you consider the scale of this development, it is only possible to conclude that this appeal site will completely lose its relationship with the countryside and its general rural landscape.”

Saxilby resident Gordon Allen, who has fought a long campaign opposing the proposed development, echoed these views, adding: “I consider that development on this greenfield site constitutes an unacceptable encroachment into the countryside.

“This is not about saying ‘no’ to further development for the village; other sites in the emerging Central Lincolnshire Local Plan would be better integrated with core facilities and improve public transport connectivity whilst saving the rural character and setting of our village.”

Saxilby Village Action Group, formed in October 2014, has also played a key role in outlining villagers’ reservations about the proposed development.

Liz Hillman, chair of the action group, said: “Residents still hold the view that this planning application will swamp our village.

“This proposed development will increase the size of the village by 14%. We do not have the infrastructure to support it and it will have a severe detrimental impact on Saxilby’s visual amenity and rural character.”

The inspector, appointed by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, will conduct a site visit before considering his decision.

A final judgement is not expected until later this year.