Why is it we have long waits for ambulances, a struggling hospital, poor roads, schools with less money, fewer buses and yet we pay our taxes just the same?
Well, demands are up, but less of your tax is coming back to run our local services, a lot less. So if we allow too many more houses, encouraging thousands more people to move in from elsewhere, we will struggle to make our services stretch further and we would clog up with traffic in some places. There are only so many extra people that our rescue boat can take without sinking!
Yet permission is being given for hundreds of houses, even as we speak, under the new Local Plan. What we need is a plan that we can agree; a plan that sets out how much housing, where and what we expect to accompany it; Jobs, schools, roads, open spaces, businesses, drainage, etc. A plan that sets out the rules for every planning application over the next 25 years.
A plan is now drafted, but is it right? There is a window of just six weeks from October 1st to November 11th for you to have your say. A strong early response from you is best. A second draft will come back, and the whole plan will be in place from October 2016.
Like me, many of you objected to the previous plan, set by party politicians alone. The Inspector agreed and it failed last December. Now without a good plan, we struggle to get local voices heard and unwanted applications get through. With strong response from you now, this new plan can be effective, even whilst part-way through. I am a reserve on the new committee, and I and others are keen to hear your views.
Either respond online or ask for a form. I will be better able to support your views if you send me a copy.
Some questions to consider are as follows:
How many houses?
Estimates range from 25,000 to 47,500 over the period of the plan. Do you feel we can cope with more or less? Should we only allow builds when we can identify where the roads, health etc is coming from? What kinds of housing and what proportion should be “affordable”?
Current proposals are for most housing (50%) to be around Lincoln, including the surrounding villages within a seven mile radius, 15% around Sleaford and the same for Gainsborough, with the remainder (20%) around smaller villages. Can Lincoln and the surrounding villages cope? What control is there to prevent all the permissions being given up front in the first rush?
What would be the effect on the high street, school places, doctors, utilities etc. under these rules?
- Villages away from Lincoln: The plan is to remove village boundaries, replaced with a 10% ceiling on the total increase over the plan period. Is this something you would support?
- Navenby is called a “growth village”? Can it take much more expansion without damaging the very character of a rural village?
- Controls for Wind farms and solar seas are also ready for your comment.
The consolation period is October 1 to November 11 so please have a look, and let us know what you think.
Marianne Overton is the Independent County and District Councillor for Navenby and Branston District and the Cliff Villages. Also leader of the Lincolnshire Independents, a county-wide support network. Twice elected national Leader of the Independent Group of councillors for England and Wales and Vice Chairman of the Local Government Association.