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Plans for 22 'entry level' homes in Morton near Bourne are reluctantly approved by South Kesteven District Council planning committee

Plans to build 22 ‘entry level’ affordable homes in a village near Bourne have reluctantly been approved by councillors.

Members of South Kesteven District Council’s (SKDC) planning committee voted in favour of Larkfleet Homes’ proposals for land at Bourne Road, Morton, at a meeting on Wednesday.

They had previously voted against the application in July - but were advised that their reasons would not stand up at a planning appeal, leaving the authority liable for costs.

SKDC council building
SKDC council building

Objections to the plan, including from Morton Parish Council, were largely on the grounds that there was not an established need for affordable housing in the village.

But the committee was told local authorities are being pushed towards providing entry level homes, a new type of affordable home aimed solely at first-time buyers and renters.

SKDC’s Local Plan is meant to allow the authority to bat away unwanted developments, having evaluated and addressed housing needs across the district.

However, the inclusion of these new starter homes had not formed part of the plan, which was based on the older 2012 national planning policy.

Will Richards, head of development management at SKDC, said the new 2018 policy requiring councils to provide entry level homes would override the committee’s reasons for refusing Larkfleet’s application.

Councillors expressed their frustration that their Local Plan had effectively been “trumped” by a “loophole”.

Coun Phil Dilks (Ind, Deeping St James) said he was not against the principle of providing affordable housing, but it must be in the right place.

“I’m hugely frustrated by where we are with this,” he said. “I don’t think this is the right area and I don’t think we should be imposing this on a village like Morton.

“It’s frankly madness that an applicant can come and drive a coach and horses through a loophole that’s been created.”

Coun Penny Milnes (Ind, Loveden Heath) added: “We’ve been trumped!”

However, there was some support for the scheme. Coun Ian Selby (Unaligned, Grantham Harrwoby) said: “The more [affordable housing] the merrier! I think this is a good application. This is not an application for a ghetto of mud huts. This is good quality housing.”

Mr Richards told members their reasons for refusal would not be robust enough, adding: “I’m surprised that as a planning committee you are not in favour of providing homes for people who can’t afford it.”

But committee chairman Coun Bob Adams hit back, saying: “You are on thin ice here. No member of the committee has said that.”

The application was approved by eight votes to one, with one abstention.

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