'MP waxing lyrical is not helpful,' says Spalding councillor as controversial Weston homes plan is passed

A tweaked plan for 150 homes was granted by councillors - who said the MP’s warning to reject the scheme on grounds of beauty was not ‘helpful’.

Persimmon Homes got permission for a development off High Road in Weston last week, having been turned down in September.

At the meeting, Persimmon development planner Katie Dowling said private drives and bin collection points had been removed from the development. She added: “The scheme will benefit the wider community with affordable homes, good open space, play facilities and a financial contribution whilst contributing to the supply of housing for South Holland.”

Parish council chairman Chris Dicks said the allocation of homes for Weston was based on an inaccurate figure - and said this was an example of a developer trying to squeeze too many homes in to a site.

The meeting heard a statement from Sir John Hayes in which he said government policy meant members should require plans to be ‘well designed, beautiful and safe’.

Coun Anthony Casson, appearing as a ward member, described the plans as ‘terrible’ and once again highlighted Weston’s sewage saga - with one resident recently struggling to flush their toilet due to the issue. Coun Rodney Grocock said ward members were ‘fed up to the back teeth’ of telling the committee about this.

'MP waxing lyrical is not helpful,' says Spalding councillor as controversial Weston homes plan is passed

Councillors have been told before that they cannot refuse new plans due to historic problems - and that it’s Anglian Water’s job to fix existing issues and cater for any new properties built.

Coun Andrew Woolf said not enough had changed since the rejected plan, adding: “We have still got what seems to be, in my view, more of a town design wanting to fit into a rural area. It still doesn’t fit.”

However, Coun Andrew Tennant could not see the problem with the plans and felt Sir John’s ‘beauty’ test was ‘ridiculous’. He said the plan was no worse than others passed - and felt Persimmon had made changes requested of them. Coun Simon Walsh agreed, saying the plans were no different to new estates in Donington.

He added: “If you want to draw a line in the sand for design why are we making Persimmon a scapegoat?”

Coun Christine Lawton questioned what the ‘local aesthetic’ of Weston actually is - saying she thought the village was a nice place to live but not an ‘area of natural beauty’.

Persimmon’s plans should give £582,992 for education, £99,000 for the NHS, 38 affordable homes and £108,000 for the parish council - to be spent on play facilities and car park upgrade at Weston Park and the installation of new bus shelters.

Coun Roger Gambba-Jones, who questioned the lack of traffic calming measures on the estate’s roads, said central government guidance of the kind quoted by Sir John was little use without a local design guide to explain what this meant in practice. He added: “The MP waxing lyrical is just that. It’s not helpful, it misleads people to thinking we can reject anything that isn’t pretty or beautiful in his view, and in his view that’s everything. It doesn’t help us deliver housing that’s affordable.”

Chairman James Avery backed up that view, adding: “We can’t make decisions in this room based on guidance, we have to make decisions based on policy, otherwise we are rapidly going to hell in a hand cart.”

Ten councillors voted in favour of the plan - three (Rodney Grocock, Andrew Woolf and Allan Beal) were against and Paul Redgate abstained.

Homes News PoliticsAndrew Brookes