A last-ditch attempt to protect land near Waterhills from development is likely to be mounted by Caistor Town Council – but it will need local residents to get involved.
Councillors discussed the move soon after voting to ratify the Caistor Neighbourhood Plan on Thursday night (February 11, 2016), following voters’ support for the plan at a referendum in January.
“Now we have ratified the Neighbourhood Plan, I think the next logical step is to make sure Waterhills becomes a Local Green Space and go through the process to do that – and I mean Waterhills in total,” said Cllr Michael Galligan.
Cllr Alan Caine pointed out that there was currently a planning application for 72 dwellings that still “has to be sorted one way or another. That particular one will have a bearing on this. We are still liaising with West Lindsey to find out what is happening there and if it is to come back for consultation. If it has got permission, you cannot take permission away. If it gets refused, the applicant will still have the right to go back to West Lindsey or go straight to appeal. I have no problem with what you are suggesting, but you have to bear in mind there is a live application.”
Cllr Galligan pointed out that at the end of October, the town council had unanimously endorsed that no building would take place “on Waterhills in totality” as part of the consultation for the Central Lincolnshire Draft Local Plan. “Now that we have got the Neighbourhood Plan, are we suggesting that right now we are going to be overridden?”
“It is an application still to be decided,” said Cllr Caine.
“Is that site allocated for development in the Neighbourhood Plan?” asked Cllr Galligan.
“West Lindsey has accepted it as suitable for development, otherwise they would not have allowed it to go forward,” replied Cllr Caine.
“But we also have the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan,” said Mayor Carol Mackenzie. “I understand it would be possible to put in a robust request. This is one possible thing we could do.”
“There is still this application which was accepted as a viable application by West Lindsey,” said Cllr Caine.
Cllr Galligan ran through some of the criteria for designating the land as Local Green Space, which would protect it from development. “I would say we need to progress whether the site is suitable for a green space,” he said.
“We have to ascertain whether the application gets permission,” said Cllr Caine.
He was contradicted by Town Clerk Helen Pitman. “The area is already partly protected by the Neighbourhood Plan but I have spoken to West Lindsey Planning Department and they said in order to give it further protection there needs to be a robust case made at a meeting in mid April,” she said. “Caistor needs to put together a case as to why that area needs to be protected, then it will be looked at.”
A briefing, circulated to members of the public at the meeting along with the agenda, outlined the work Ms Pitman had already started in compiling information for Caistor to make such a case. The briefing, shown below, listed the protections already outlined in the Neighbourhood Plan and other areas of potential research. A name has been redacted from the document by the Citizen..
“It is still an active application,” said Cllr Caine. “You cannot just pull the rug and say that’s it, it’s over.”
Cllr Alan Somerscales said the action proposed by the town clerk was “the only way.”
“The only hope we have to stop this, if it is what the town wants, is to go down Helen’s way,” he said.
“I have highlighted that paragraphs 76 and 77 which are about Local Green Space designation,” said Ms Pitman. “These are the things that Caistor needs to build upon and make the case for the Local Plan. Is it of special significance? This needs a lot of input from local residents. The beauty of it needs to be elaborated on. The historical significance can be looked at. The recreational value needs input from residents. With regards to the richness of the wildlife, we need to know if any surveys have been undertaken.”
Cllr Deborah Barker suggested that the Wildlife Trust might have conducted some surveys.
Ms Pitman added, “The sooner Caistor can put something together ready to submit, the better.”
Mayor Mackenzie reminded the meeting that there wasn’t much time.
Cllr Clive Rudd asked what was the position with the application.
“We chucked it back from here in July 2014,” said Cllr Caine. “The reports had numerous mistakes. It went back to West Lindsey, then it seemed to have stalled. I understand some of that information has now been supplied. I maintain it is to come back to town council for a fresh consultation, at which point a lot of this new stuff can be used. You have to bear in mind when it does come back, should West Lindsey pass it, we get the best deal in terms of health, education, drainage and so on. The application put before us in 2014 is still active. That is the problem.”
Ms Pitman came back to the topic of putting in a robust case forward for Local Green Space in the Central Lincolnshire Draft Local Plan. “There needs to be a document written up, rather than a petition,” she said. “It is about the number of people submitting a case for the protection of Waterhills.”
“It will have to be considered on valid planning grounds,” said Cllr Caine.
He was again contradicted by Ms Pitman. Her response was a very firm “No!”
A further suggestion by Mayor Mackenzie that it was left to Ms Pitman to make up a draft response, and that the council contacts various interested parties, was also firmly contradicted. “I need input from residents,” said Ms Pitman.
Cllr Deborah Barker praised Ms Pitman for doing “a great job putting together a crib sheet.”
No resolution was made at the end of the discussion, but Cllr Galligan suggested that a special meeting be arranged and it seemed likely that it would be organised.
People wishing to comment can contact Ms Pitman on http://firstname.lastname@example.org or she can be contacted by writing to Little Beck, Normanby Road, Nettleton, LN7 6TA.