MP: "Remove demolition threat hanging over Spalding homes"
MP Sir John Hayes is calling on the county council to remove the demolition threat hanging over family homes in Spalding.
Sir John wants the authority to go back to the drawing board over the route of the middle section of Spalding Western Relief Road.
Either one of two possible routes could see up to nine homes bulldozed in Bourne Road, including the “forever home” built 20 years ago by Catherine and Frank Roberts and a recently built pair of semis.
The South Holland and the Deepings MP is seeking talks with Coun Richard Davies, the county’s executive member for highways. Sir John has already expressed outrage at the way most residents’ discovered their homes could be bulldozed.
Some found out at a drop-in session organised by the county while others were in the dark until alerted by Spalding councillor Angela Newton, who speedily organised a meeting where they could air their views.
Sir John told the Spalding Guardian: “It was astonishing that people whose houses were being demolished hadn’t been told in advance of the public display of the routes.”
When that blunder was first revealed, Coun Davies said he would ask the project team to “explain why they didn’t contact affected residents beforehand.”
The Spalding Guardian asked for the outcome and whether anyone was being disciplined - and if not, why not?
Coun Davies replied: “The relief road’s safeguarding corridor has been in the public domain since 2017 and was consulted on last year as part of the new local plan.
“As it turns out, people were less aware of the corridor than we thought, and the best I can do is apologise again for this situation and for some people being caught off guard.”
Coun Davies also told us: "I've spoken to the project team and they believed that the extensive publicity we carried out was sufficient enough to ensure everyone in the local community was aware of the engagement sessions.
“We realise now that we should have taken a more personal approach when it came to the residents potentially affected.
"As a result, we have been in touch with the residents of Bourne Road and Horseshoe Road directly affected, inviting them to arrange an initial one-to-one meeting with the project team early next month.
“I would like to stress again that things are still at a very early stage, and we don't envisage starting construction of the relief road's middle sections any time in the near future."
There were no personal notifications for residents from South Holland District Council (SHDC), although its portfolio holder for place, Coun Roger Gambba-Jones, said the local plan was widely publicised.
He said:"The local plan is a blueprint for future, long-term plans and growth of the district.
"The aim of the Spalding Western Relief Road is to relieve congestion within the town and enable its future growth.
"The future of the Spalding Western Relief Road in terms of its delivery is yet to be determined in detail. This is especially the case in respect of the central section of the road, which is a longer-term project.
"Any plans will be subject to the usual planning process, led by Lincolnshire County Council, in which residents will be able to put forth their views.
"The preparation of the South East Lincolnshire Local Plan was subject to a significant amount of public consultation.
"This included 16 'drop-in' exhibition sessions across South Holland over the course of the different stages of its preparation."
Coun Gambba-Jones said the events were well publicised through adverts and articles in regional and local press, notices in public libraries, posters in doctors' surgeries, hospitals, schools and colleges.
He continued: "The authority also promoted the various stages of consultation through regular updates on both councils' websites and social media posts.
"The views captured through this extensive consultation exercise were considered along with the hundreds of comments and views from other individuals and interested parties.
"It's also important to stress that the preparation of the South East Lincolnshire Local Plan was subject to an open and public examination, where residents were allowed to air their views in front of an independent Government inspector who rigorously tested the plan to ensure that it meets the requirements of national planning policy and is legally compliant."
Bourne Road resident Amanda Halifax said: "It would have been courtesy to pop a letter in the post stating that your house/home could be affected and stating when and wherethe consultations were.
"I had never heard of the road and certainly had seen nothing in my area to inform me - not on the telegraph poles or in the local village hall.
"I do think their communication with people whose homes could be affected is appalling and an apology from one officer in a meeting is not sufficient as not everyone attended the meeting organised by Coun Angela Newton and, without her flyer, I still would not be aware my home was one of those on the dreaded routes."