Despite major concerns and objections raised by Welton’s local residents, an outline application for residential development of up to 350 dwellings, including specialist retirement housing with means of access to be considered, was approved by what must now be seen (and not for the first time) as a discredited and wholly out-of-touch WLDC planning committee.
The Minutes of the Planning Committee show the depth of objections that were simply ignored at the behest of Councillor Malcom Parish in particular, who spoke favourably regarding what he saw as the benefits of the application.
Alan Greenaway presented the views of Welton Parish Council. The Parish Council felt that the application should be refused because there would be an unacceptable increased demand on facilities such as education and health services for example; and in any event, it was contrary to Policy STRAT 19 and paragraphs 7 and 17 of the NPPF. In addition, the proposals were not socially or environmentally beneficial. Furthermore, the huge increase in traffic would be detrimental to the village.
Three objectors raised such issues as: the size of the development; concerns regarding highway safety; the cumulative effect when added to those applications already approved; and the fact that Welton was already bigger than Market Rasen but with fewer facilities.
Councillor Mrs Di Rodgers reiterated the concerns she had already raised. Councillor Mrs Rodgers rightly emphasised the enormity of the proposal and raised the question of adverse impacts on the local facilities, in particular schools, health provision and existing highway safety concerns of already over-capacity of the nearby A46. Her reasoned and well-presented arguments, for which she should be applauded, were ignored by Councillor Parish and his colleagues.
Most telling of all, the objections included the fact that consultation in the community did not support the proposed large development.
How much longer can we accept the outrageous decisions of this WLDC committee that simply rides roughshod over the genuine concern of local residents? Councillors should subject to more democratic scrutiny than now, in both their work and the manner of their appointment. This is particularly so in planning issues. It is time to respect local opinion and ensure that the views of local people are the overriding factor in planning applications, such as we see here, and are not simply overruled by committees.
UKIP is an advocate of direct democracy by giving local voters the power in a local referendum to block local housing schemes, such as that proposed for Welton. Questionable major planning decisions should be decided by a binding local referendum and not on the individual and unchallenged whims of councillors whose judgement and reasoning is suspect and should be questioned more closely.
Dr Howard Thompson
UKIP Gainsborough Constituency Association