Inquiry into Linden Homes application for 46 homes in Bourne

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A 46-HOME development should be built in Bourne to make up for a housing shortfall across South Kesteven, a planning inquiry has heard.

Linden Homes was refused permission to build the second phase of its development in the old Wherry’s Yard in South Road, Bourne, by South Kesteven District Council in October.

Despite planning officers recommending the plans for approval, councillors said at the time that there were enough homes planned for Bourne.

They also pointed to the core strategy, a planning document drawn up by the council to guide where development should take place which advises that until 2016, house-building in Bourne should be restricted to sites which had planning permission when the strategy was adopted in 2010.

Linden Homes appealed the decision and at a planning inquiry in Grantham yesterday (Tuesday) argued that councillors had ignored the advice of the government’s National Planning Policy Framework.

Mike Sibthorp, of Mike Sibthorp Planning, spoke on behalf of the developer. He told planning inspector Andrew Jeyes that the council could not demonstrate a five-year housing supply across South Kesteven, as required by the government.

Mr Sibthorp added: “Guidance is set on a district-wide five-year supply. If there is not a five-year supply then there is a presumption in favour of sustainable development applications.”

Ben Hunt, of Ben Hunt Planning, speaking on behalf of the council, agreed that a five-year supply could not be demonstrated across the district.

But he argued that while national policy should be followed, the council’s own core strategy should also be taken into consideration.

Mr Hunt said the application should be regarded “in the spirit of localism” and pointed to the Elsea Park development, which could see up to 100 homes built every year until 2016, as evidence that Bourne itself had a housing supply in excess of five years.

He said: “The National Planning Policy Framework doesn’t say that the only way to deal with a five-year supply is at a district level.

“It is relevant to look locally to see how well the strategy is working in different locations. The lack of a five-year supply in one part of the district doesn’t mean the strategy is not working.”

Mr Sibthorp argued that the council had contravened its own core strategy by approving two 14-home developments in Bourne and a larger 120-home site in Market Deeping.

The Bourne sites include the council’s own town centre redevelopment scheme at Wherry’s Mill and the former Rainbow supermarket in Manning Road and Raymond Mays garage in Spalding Road.

Mr Sibthorp said: “There is a consistent pattern. The council was fully aware of what the core strategy said and made these decisions despite that.”

He added that councillors had called the town centre site a good use of otherwise vacant space and this was no different to Linden Homes’ plans.

But Mr Hunt said both 14-home sites were approved for good reason. He added: “One is a town centre regeneration site. It is a smaller part of a wider site within the town centre and was viewed as a catalyst for the regeneration of that area.

“It is completely different to the appeal site.

“The other site is a renewal of a permission granted a few years ago. The committee report pre-dates the core strategy.”

Mr Sibthorp applied for full costs to be awarded against the council as he said councillors had not provided reasonable planning grounds for their decision and had gone against national and local policy.

Mr Hunt said the council had provided evidence to support its reasons for refusal and the developer’s application was contrary to the council’s core strategy.

A decision on the inquiry is expected in about five weeks.