January 18, 2022 10.24 am

Government refuses ELDC plans to extend winter season in caravan parks

Flood risks too great says inspector

A Lincolnshire council’s hopes to extend the caravan season through the winter have been washed out with the tide following a ministerial decision.

Minister of State for Housing Michael Gove ruled against East Lindsey District Council’s applications for Hill View Caravan Park in Hogsthorpe and Skegness Water Leisure Park on Monday and said he is “minded to refuse” Willow Tree Farm in Sutton on Sea.

A statement on the government’s website said all the applications fell within a “high risk area” of the Coastal Zone and that the flooding dangers associated with the site would be “unacceptable” and that the proposals would be “contrary” to the development plan as a whole.

However, it accepted that there was some weight in favour due to the benefits to the economy, tourism, community facility and biodiversity.

Following the decision Portfolio Holder for Planning at ELDC, Councillor Tom Ashton, said the council had “sought to actively and positively respond to requests from businesses” to enable a longer season, encourage year round economic activity, and take a “balanced approach” to coastal flood risk.

He said the authority would be reviewing the contents of the decision, adding that it “remains committed to both supporting and protecting the residents and businesses within the coastal areas”.

“We will continue to work collaboratively with a wide range of partners, to help drive investment in our coastal communities to improve the visitor offer and create sustainable employment that enables our residents to live a better quality of life and our businesses to be more successful.

“The safety of our residents and visitors, of course, remains of paramount importance to us and in dealing with these applications this was at the forefront of our minds.”

Lincolnshire County Council, the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum and the Environment Agency were among those who had concerns over the plans.

Councillor Martin Hill, leader of LCC, said the authority was “pleased” by the decision, which acknowledged “the risk and consequence of coastal flooding”.

“We’re clear… that there are ways to help coastal areas thrive with the right investment and visitor attractions year-round. However, this has to be done with the safety and best interests of residents as a priority,” he said.

“The applications would have presented a risk to life if progressed.

“Emergency services are under extreme pressure when flooding occurs, and it would be irresponsible to encourage additional people to live in caravans during the winter storm season, both for their own welfare and the welfare of existing residents.”

He said ELDC had been “fundamentally wrong” for not consulting partners or residents about its plans, especially as a “member of the partnership charged with long term coastal management”.

“Hopefully these refusals send a strong message that this is not a course of action that is safe or desirable to pursue.”

The decision on Willow Tree Farm will allow parties to comment on legal technicalities.

ELDC can appeal the decision within six weeks of the letter date by making an application to the High Court.