West Lindsey can’t ‘go it alone’ on local plan

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Petitioners calling for West Lindsey District Council to produce its own independent local plan will today hear this is not legally possible.

Campaigners from Lincoln-fringe villages are demanding West Lindsey produces its own local plan, as they fear the current proposed Central Lincolnshire Plan would see their settlements swamped with development to meet targets.

However, a report by chief executive Manjeet Gill says because the district council handed its ‘Planning Authority’ powers to the Central Lincolnshire Strategic Planning Committee in 2009, as a result of an order placed before Parliament, it would need to seek the return of these powers from the Secretary of State.

“The success of this could not be ascertained and delays in preparing a Local Plan would defeat the objectives of what the Petition seeks to achieve “that is unsustainable growth that a Local Plan can manage through its policies of where growth is strategically identified,” she said.

“Therefore, the council could not lawfully decide to withdraw from the Joint Committee, in line with national legislation which removed the council’s powers to act as a Strategic Planning Authority to produce a Local Plan.”

The report has been prepared for an Extraordinary Meeting of West Lindsey District Council which meets this evening at the EPIC Centre, Lincolnshire Showground. Prior to this, from 4pm to 6.30pm, the council will stage a Consultation Event about the plan.

Manjeet Gill’s report presents options to the council such as carrying on as now, or looking at how it can withdraw from the Central Lincolnshire Strategic Planning Committee and/or withdrawing from the Joint Planning Unit with Central Lincolnshire.

But her report also warns an independent local plan would prevent the council from making “substantial savings exceeding six figures” by working in partnership with neighbouring authorities.

The council would also face extra risks in an independent plan not being sufficiently consulted upon, there could be “unplanned growth in the wrong areas” and the Secretary of State may not give the council its Strategic Planning Powers, which in itself is a long process.

Council Leader Jeff Summers says rather than having a Local Plan completed in 2016, it could be 2017-18 before an independent plan was completed, meaning the council would face an extra 1-2 years without the tools to resist ‘inappropriate’ development.

“It would be the most ludicrous position to find ourselves in,” he told the Rasen Mail.