Towns to bridge Humber housing gap

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Councillors are pushing for extra development in Caistor and Market Rasen as they are close to South Humberside.

The report for West Lindsey District Council says both towns need more housing to help support their retail centres, which are larger than for most towns of their size.

Last night, members of the Prosperous Communities Committee discussed a report which featured feedback from councillors about the Preliminary Draft of the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan, which was issued in August and made available for public consultation this month.

One councillor said the plan needs to take into account other housing market areas, such as North East Lincolnshire and the industrial development in South Humberside.

“This means that there is the potential for the North East of West Lindsey to absorb greater levels of growth, e.g Caistor, which needs to increase the population to safeguard and grow services.”

Another councillor said the plan “needs more mention of South Humber bank and employment opportunities there, particularly links to Caistor and Market Rasen in the North East of the area.”

“Caistor and Market Rasen currently have larger retail centres than their populations suggest. (We) need to ensure that these are safeguarded and that retail diversity is maintained/increased.”

Coun Jeff Summers, leader of West Lindsey District Council, told the Rasen Mail the South Humber is poised to “experience significant development” leading to “significant demand for housing” in the Caistor area and Caistor Parish Council has put the town forward for extra development.

Market Rasen also needs development to sustain its high street. “That’s the big fight. We need to try and keep that commercial centre,” he said.

Coun Summers agreed with Market Rasen councillors who say the town needs jobs to support any extra housing.

He is talking with West Lindsey’s economic development staff to put more effort into promoting the district to attract more businesses to set up in Market Rasen and similar towns under a review of its economic development strategy.

District and county councillor Burt Keimach says if there aren’t jobs, people won’t be able to pay the mortgages on their new houses.

“You have to have enterprise, commerce and business. Without it, it’s useless,” he said.

District and Town councillor Ken Bridger says it would be ‘immoral’ to build more houses without jobs. No jobs, meant no money for the shops either.

“They have to look at the bigger picture,” he said of the planners.

Meanwhile, West Lindsey District Council stages an Extraordinary General Meeting next Wednesday following the presentation of a petition from residents opposing major housing plans along the Lincoln fringe.

A consultation event will start at 4pm on October 22 at the Epic Centre, Lincolnshire Showground. Then at 6.30pm the Extraordinary Council meeting to discuss the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan will begin.

Coun Summers says there is much misunderstanding from people about how the central Lincolnshire Local Plan is being developed and he was using the meeting an a chance to explain the process. While such people want West Lindsey to produce its own plan, believing this would lead to fewer developments around their villages, Coun Summers says the opposite might happen as at present, the council lacks the policies to resist many proposals.

Producing a new plan for West Lindsey, even if central government allowed it, would take many months longer, meaning it could be 2017 or 2018 before the district got its own plan, as opposed the current 2016 target.

“One or two years without a plan to protect West Lindsey, it would be the most ludicrous position to find ourselves in,” he said.