More homes for Holbeach fields

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A Holbeach homes development deemed ‘almost too good to be true’ has been cautiously approved by councillors.

The plan - for 188 new homes on land off Damgate - will comprise a mixture of two-, three-, four- and five-bedroom homes on a greenfield site bordered by Damgate, Fleet Road and Greenfields.

Concern was expressed by both Holbeach and Fleet parish councils about the single access point to the development , the current infrastructure being unable to cope with the new homes and potential flooding issues.

Coun Harry Drury said: “I do understand where the residents are coming from with their concerns, but they are not objections that can be used in planning terms.

“Holbeach will only be improved by an increase in population. Inward investment from the developers would attract new business to the area.”

However, Coun Paul Foyster, attending the meeting as a ward councillor, was unhappy, saying: “ By comparison, if this proportion of new homes was foisted on Spalding, it would have 25,000 new residents. It wouldn’t happen. In my honest opinion, Holbeach has already done its share.”

Cllr Laura Eldridge commented: “I am struggling with knowing there’s only one access point.

“Damsgate is a very narrow road and my gut feeling is to say ‘no’.

Cllr Foyster added: “There is frequent flooding on this road and I just can’t see what improvements can be made to that road to make it safer.”

Disappointed with the proposal to approve the application, Coun Foyster added: “These insane regulations should be amended. No more [homes] should be approved until exising ones [with planning permission] have been built and sold.”

Committee chairman Coun Roger Gambaa-Jones told members: “There are so many plusses. They are willing to meet our affordable homes requirement, willing to put £1,000,000 into education and willing to make a contribution to healthcare.

“I am putting a marker down at this point given the concerns from councillors, but in planning terms, they have to be supported by evidence. Should the applicant begin to backtrack, then the council has to be the opportunity to review this application.

The five-year housing plan is merely a target in government terms and provides a stick to beat us with. I am sorry that the public do not necessarily understand that.”

The promise of a community orchard planted in place of having a public open space in Gosberton was roundly dismissed by councillors .

Applicants D and F Casswell and Mrs F Rozier had also hoped to have the proportion of affordable homes cut to 25 per cent from 33 per cent, as amendments to the original plan approved for land adjacent to York Gardens and Low Gate.

Conditional outline permission had been granted in March.

Coun Roger Gambaa-Jones responded: “Twenty-five per cent may be a more sustainable figure, but one-third is still our policy. It would be dangerous to change policy on the hoof.

“A reduction to 25 per cent has yet to be tested at public inquiry. If the applicant wanted to change, they would also have to supply a sustainability report.”

Councillors rejected the amended application on the grounds that no viability assesment had been conducted; the reduction to 25 per cent social housing has not been formally tested and the orchard proposal was not in the original application.

Coun Andrew Tennant summed up the feeling in the chamber, saying: “A community orchard seems barmy to me. It’s just ridiculous.”