Response to Head of Planning 26 November 2022

Clerk: Kerry Culley
56 Bridgeways, Alford, Lincs LN13 9FA
telephone: 07713 103425

26 November 2022

Dear Mr Gildersleeves,

Re:  Concerns Of Residents And Criteria Used For Size Of Addlethorpe Village

This refers to your emails dated 14 September and 7 October 2022.

Addlethorpe Parish Council take issue with the assertion that East Lindsey District Council's planning decisions in respect of caravan planning applications since 2018 regarding Addlethorpe are a lawful use of Council's role as the local planning authority. Council has failed to properly apply the policies stated in the 2018 Local Plan by wrongly classifying Addlethorpe as a medium size village. The Plan's scoring system for services and amenities that are available in a community manifestly demonstrates that Addlethorpe should properly be classified as a small village.

The error in the classification of Addlethorpe as a medium size village has been acknowledged on behalf of East Lindsey District Council by its Planning Department, including in previous correspondence by yourself and other officers in your department. The Council’s action in wrongly approving the 2018 Local Plan notwithstanding ELDC’s incorrect classification of Addlethorpe is a vital material consideration in relation to all subsequent planning decisions that refer to Addlethorpe. ELDC’s failure to give due consideration to this factor in planning decisions represents a continuing breach of its duty of fairness towards the village of Addlethorpe and its residents throughout the four years since the initial error.

Council's continuing approval of planning applications for new caravan parks and extensions to existing caravan parks, notwithstanding that the Planning Committee is aware of the error in the 2018 Local Plan, constitutes a failure to follow due process and as such breaches the duty of fairness owed by the Council in accordance with statute and the principles of natural justice and is therefore unlawful. In our opinion there is a continuing breach of this duty each time such decisions are made by East Lindsey District Council’s Planning Committee and this renews the limitation period for commencing an application for judicial review.   

In our opinion, the unlawful decisions of East Lindsey District Council’s Planning Committee cannot be legitimised by the references in your email to “the [Local] plan as a whole”, to the National Planning Policy Framework or to “the views and comments of consultees”. A decision taken in disregard of manifest error cannot be considered to be a “rounded judgement” taken in the interests of achieving a subjective balance of the normal planning considerations, “where factors often push and pull against each other, and where different decision makers can legitimately reach different conclusions”. Decisions that are taken without regard for the injustice due to the decision maker’s own error must clearly fall outside the decision maker’s jurisdiction and as such have no legal legitimacy.

The assertion in your email that the Planning Committee’s and Planning Officers’ reports set out “how material planning considerations were balanced” in deciding whether a proposal “complies or not with the policies of the development plan” fails to recognise that the decisions were taken in the absence of due process and in breach of natural justice. In such circumstances we cannot accept your claim that “the Council is committed to making lawful decisions, and taking into consideration the views of residents and the Parish Council”.

Your email states that both the Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework seek to support “growth”. In our opinion, this is an incomplete characterisation of the Local Plan and the NPPF and therefore misleading, as it omits other guidance that is also contained in the plans. For example (emphases added):

1) The Local Plan states that its first objective is for “A network of thriving, safer and
healthy sustainable communities, where people can enjoy a high quality of life and
an increased sense of well-being and where new development simultaneously
addresses the needs of the economy, communities and the environment”

2) The Local Plan states that it seeks to ”Protect and commit to improve essential community
facilities in towns and villages” and to “Ensure that infrastructure is capable of
accommodating planned growth”

3) The Local Plan states at 8.7 “....the Council will support proposals where it is
demonstrated that they have safe access to the nearest town, large or medium
settlement with pedestrians and vehicles being segregated.”

4) Development is required to be “sustainable”. The “East Lindsey Local Plan  - Issues and Options Paper”, June 2021 states that the most widely used definition of “sustainable development” when assessing plans and proposals is: 'Development which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs' … through the integration of social, economic and environmental considerations”.

5) Strategic Policy 15 (SP15) “Widening the Inland Tourism and Leisure Economy” states that “The Council will support quality tourism facilities and attractions where they  … Are of a scale and intensity compatible with their surroundings. … [and] capable of being integrated into its surroundings without unacceptable harm to the character, appearance and amenities of the area; and 3. The Council will support new and extensions to caravans, log cabins, chalets, camping and touring site development where sites are in close proximity to a town, large or medium village”.

6) The Local Plan Chapter 8 - Widening The Inland Tourism And Leisure Economy states at 8.6: “ …  the Council is mindful of the visual impact that static holiday caravans can have, unless their layout and landscaping is well thought out. Careful consideration needs to be given to how proposed new static caravan and log cabin developments fit within their wider setting and the surrounding existing landscape. Touring caravans are also a popular form of accommodation, as is camping, particularly for those looking for a more spontaneous, low-key holiday.  …  Regard should be given to the character of the existing settlement in the scale, cumulative impact both in landscape and visual terms, traffic impact and design and the impact on the host community. “

Your email states that “Planning can be incredibly emotive, and whilst I have sympathy with residents in the community in respect of ‘what’s coming next’, unfortunately this is not something within our power to control”, and you invite us to “engage proactively with the Local Plan Review which is being undertaken”. This statement fails to acknowledge the fact that in the meantime applications for large numbers of additional caravans continue to be recommended by your department for approval by the ELDC Planning Committee.

You are well aware of the grave concerns that have been conveyed to you by Addlethorpe Parish Council, reflecting the acute anxieties of the residents of Addlethorpe about the cumulative effect of continuing, incremental caravan park approvals visited by East Lindsey District Council Planning Committee on this small, rural village. You know that Addlethorpe is not a medium size village, that it qualifies in reality as a small village according to the Council’s own policies, that as such it has almost no services or amenities, that it is yet having imposed upon it by your department’s actions numbers of caravans that already exceed the village population of 331 residents by several times, and that it is facing a doubling of this number in the coming weeks if your officers recommend the applications that are outstanding at the present time.

In the circumstances we invite the members of the Planning Committee and yourself to attend a public meeting in Addlethorpe at the earliest possible date to see and hear the concerns of our residents at first hand, and to explain the position of East Lindsey District Council in continuing to allow new and extension caravan parks in Addlethorpe despite being aware of the clear error in the current Local Plan on which those decisions being taken by the Planning Committee are founded.

We request as a matter of urgency, that you kindly advise the earliest convenient date for you and the Planning Committee members to attend a meeting in Addlethorpe in order that we can make the necessary arrangements.

Yours truly,

Kerry Culley
Clerk to Addlethorpe Parish Council