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The South Holland planning battles that have defined 2021

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A number of high profile planning issues have dominated the headlines in South Holland in 2021.

As we look back on the stories that have shaped the year, several have involved fierce debates on the developments that should or should not be allowed.

Here's a flavour of what the big issues have been and, in some cases, continue to be:

Trader Sue Stubley celebrates in Spalding town centre after the active travel zone plans were ditched in May. (50654631)
Trader Sue Stubley celebrates in Spalding town centre after the active travel zone plans were ditched in May. (50654631)

Active Travel Zone

Plans for an 'active travel zone' in Spalding were revealed by the county council in March.

The idea was to encourage walking and cycling - and would have removed on street parking in Broad Street, The Crescent, Sheep Market and Double Street.

It's fair to say they weren't particularly popular - with traders branding them a 'stab in the back'.

The idea was ditched in May after 79% of respondents to the county council's consultation were 'unsupportive' - and the money went to Stamford, Sutton-on-Sea and Lincoln instead.

Not everyone disliked all of the plan however - with cycle action group Pedals explaining how it thought the idea could have been better implemented in Spalding.

This image shows how the Spalding shop front could look. (49731172)
This image shows how the Spalding shop front could look. (49731172)

Merkur Slots

Plans for an adult gaming centre in the former Dorothy Perkins store in Spalding have proved controversial.

In the face of a big public backlash, South Holland District Council refused planning permission for Merkur Slots to open in Hall Place.

However, the firm has since successfully won a licence to operate and is appealing the planning decision (it needs both permissions to start trading).

There is not yet a date set for the planning appeal to be heard, so this is a saga that is set to continue into 2022.

In the meantime, the plans have also prompted a focus on gambling - with Matt Amess bravely speaking about his battle with addiction and highlighting the lack of support in the town.

MP Sir John Hayes (53976101)
MP Sir John Hayes (53976101)

The 'line in the sand'

Plans for 150 homes in Weston have ended up being seen as something of a test case in the battle over new developments in our villages.

Persimmon Homes failed in its bid to win permission to build a development off High Road in September.

The scheme was initially put on ice in August while issues over the design and flooding were explored - and then was narrowly rejected after a long debate.

Sir John Hayes said the decision was a 'line in the sand' - and an early test for the new Government planning framework.

That did not end the matter, however, with Persimmon tweaking its plans with the aim of having more success in 2022.

The debate also shone a spotlight on the fact that Anglian Water has failed to fix Weston's long-running sewage saga, despite it being raised for more than 35 years.

Station House, Spalding (52849804)
Station House, Spalding (52849804)

Station House

A developer has won permission to knock down Spalding's historic Station House.

The Aldrich Group initially saw its plans to knock the building down and build flats in its place rejected in November - but was successful at the second attempt.

South Holland's heritage champion Liz Sneath has vowed to carry on the fight to save the building in 2022 - but as things stand the structure won't be a feature in the town for much longer.

Recently used by BT staff, the building was once home to senior railway employees and is seen by campaigners as emblematic of the role the railway once played in Spalding's past.

The Bull, Long Sutton. (50199952)
The Bull, Long Sutton. (50199952)

Grot Spots

The debate continues on what to do with South Holland's long-running 'grot spot' eyesore buildings...but there was some hope of light at the end of the tunnel for some long running battles in 2021.

In September, a developer revealed it had plans for the Bull Hotel in Long Sutton - sparking hope that a future might finally be secured for the Market Place landmark. It had been hoped that the details may emerge by the end of the year - but we're still awaiting to see a scheme.

We're not, however, waiting on for the former sorting office in Spalding. New owners emerged in September - and plans are awaiting a decision in the new year.

The council is due to reveal its new matchmaking strategy to pair up developers with untidy sites - and there are strong rumours of interest in Sutton Bridge's Bridge Hotel, which is timely since the landmark building was flagged as a hazard in July this year.

Concerned residents met with Coun Angela Newton (third from left) over plans for a 5G mast to be erected at the top of Claudette Avenue, Spalding (48514226)
Concerned residents met with Coun Angela Newton (third from left) over plans for a 5G mast to be erected at the top of Claudette Avenue, Spalding (48514226)

5G Masts

Mobile phone firm Three has tried and failed with a series of applications for 5G masts at sites in Spalding.

By the end of the year, Wygate Park, Birch Grove, Hawthorn Bank, The Parkway and West Elloe Avenue all saw planning applications turned down.

In each instance, the council rules the 50-foot high structures would create an "unduly dominant, obtrusive and alien feature" near peoples' homes.

Councillors have called on Three to talk to them about identifying suitable sites in the town so that faster phone services can be rolled out - but those calls are as yet unheeded.

The Milestone Lane development site (46309592)
The Milestone Lane development site (46309592)

The village that can't cope?

There are a series of debates about development right across South Holland - but perhaps nowhere is that more acute than in Pinchbeck.

In April we ran a special report on the fears that the village will not be able to cope with hundreds more homes going up at several new developments - and residents fear it's just becoming subsumed into Spalding.

Despite plans being lodged in March, there's still no word on whether 38 homes will be allowed on Millers Field - a grazing paddocks the size of two to three football pitches. Residents there came up with a 21-point dossier in opposition to the plans.

One of the village's developers recently lodged plans to try to get out of its payments to the community - saying it can't afford them. It's a common argument that many residents are not happy with - and the parish council said allowing this would set a dangerous precedent.

At the end of the year the latest plans for 400 more homes were lodged for land near the new relief road - meaning the future shape of Pinchbeck will remain a talking point in 2022.

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