Rasen development decision deferred

The proposed site for 300 homes off the A46 Caistor Road on the northern edge of Market Rasen. EMN-171104-171804001
The proposed site for 300 homes off the A46 Caistor Road on the northern edge of Market Rasen. EMN-171104-171804001

Campaigners will have to wait at least another three weeks for a decision on a controversial Middle Rasen housing development.

Members of West Lindsey District Council’s planning committee met last Wednesday but deferred a final decision pending ‘clarifications’ from a number of organisations.

They spent over an hour discussing the Chestnut Homes application for 300 dwellings off Caistor Road.

The scheme has attracted widespread opposition from residents and councillors, and the planning committee called for ‘clarifications’ from some of the major agencies involved in the process, including Lincolnshire County Council’s Highways department and the Environment Agency.

During the meeting, councillors had raised concerns about an increase in traffic and flooding issues.

The Rasen Mail recently reported that the Environment Agency had re-classified the site from a ‘Level 3’, indicating a high risk of flooding, to a ‘Level 1’, indicating a low risk.

At the time, the EA stressed their rating applied to a nearby beck - and not actual surface water which collected on the site.

The EA stressed the issue of standing water was the responsibility of the county council which told the Rasen Mail specialist reports indicated there was no reason to object to the application on flooding issues.

Speaking at the meeting, Middle Rasen Parish Council chairman Coun Michael Stamp said: “Flooding is a big issue.

“The land is in a very low area and I’ve heard reports of a large pond forming on the site recently.”

County councillor Lewis Strange (Ancholme Cliff) said attending the meeting had left him with questions.

He added: “I have been chairman of the Lincolnshire Flood and Drainage Scrutiny Committee for the last four years and have the greatest respect for officers in that department.

“However, I cannot understand why the land has been re-graded just like that when insurance policies in the area are going up.”

However, Neil Kempster, land development director for Chestnut Homes, said: “The Environment Agency has confirmed the site is in flood zone 1.

“Consultants have prepared a drainage strategy which has been approved by the concerned agencies.

“Surface water can be dealt with adequately.”

He also defended the application against increased traffic concerns adding: “Our transport assessment has indicated there is sufficient capacity in the local highway to safely accommodate traffic generated by the development.”

However, Coun Hugo Marfleet countered by saying: “There’s no point in bunging a load of houses in without addressing highways.

“George Street is very tight. We have a traffic management system that is not flexible”.

Coun Jessie Milne added that the ‘impact’ of the development on Market Rasen’s roads would be ‘phenomenal’.

The Mail approached LCC’s Highways department for a comment after the meeting.

In a statement. a spokesman said: “As with all major development, the developer was required to provide a full transport assessment as part of this application.

“The county council as highway authority has carefully considered this in responding to WLDC.

“If WLDC does require further information before it makes a final decision, we will be happy to provide this once we have received the questions.”

Members of the Rasen Action Group, (RAG) also attended the planning meeting.

Spokesman Andrew Newton said: “The meeting was very interesting.

“There was a general agreement that the development is not right for Market Rasen.

“Discussions were very much against the development. All of the speakers spoke of the current issues in Rasen and how the new estate would likely make things worse.

“My personal feeling is that it will take a while to collate the extra data and that we might not be much better off for the information we get back.

“We remain confident that WLDC will refuse permission for this site. This would be a massive development in the wrong place and will cause huge problems going forward that WLDC would have to sort out, ultimately with taxpayers’ money.

“RAG will assist WLDC in any way we can.”