Fury as Caistor town plan is ‘assassinated’

Caistor news EMN-150519-124814001
Caistor news EMN-150519-124814001

Caistor Council has lodged a formal objection to a 19-page “assassination” of the town’s neighbourhood plan.

Councillors are furious after planning staff from Peterborough City Council wrote a lengthy letter criticising the plan, which had taken the town three years to complete.

Town clerk Helen Pitman told a town council meeting West Lindsey District Council had called in staff from Peterborough to look at the plan because they were “stretched”.

She said: “They asked them to comment and the officer has done a 19-page assassination of the neighbourhood plan.

“It’s rather disappointing. We gave up three years of our lives to do this. It was a bolt out of the blue.”

Mrs Pitman said the plan had been submitted to WLDC one year ago and the council had “never before” made any negative comments.

She said as things stood it looked like the plan would have to be rewritten but was hopeful a meeting on May 22 would “get them to change their mind”.

She said: “We want to sort this before it’s submitted to the examiner.”

Mrs Pitman said Planning Aid - an organisation that offers independent advice - was backing up the town council.

She said: “Planning Aid disagree with what’s in the document and a planning officer tends to side with our view.”

Coun Martin Sizer said: “They annihilated it after all these people dedicated so many hours.”

Neighbourhood plans put in place planning policies for future development and growth.

Mrs Pitman said many negative comments referred to the core planning strategy, which no longer exists.

Coun Mike Stopper suggested making a formal objection and councillors voted in favour.

WLDC chief operating officer Mark Sturgess said: “The district council is required to undertake a formal ‘check’ of the proposed plan in order to identify any, potential, legal issues with the plans policies and proposals. The recommendations within this report will be submitted, along with other relevant information to the appointed independent examiner. He will review all information to see whether it complies with the statutory Neighbourhood Plan regulations, the National Planning Policy Framework, West Lindsey’s current Local Development Plan and the emerging Joint Central Lincolnshire Local Plan. The examination process will take around 6-8 weeks and a final report by the examiner will identify whether the proposed Neighbourhood Plan can proceed to a public referendum.”