Nettleham Parish Councillor, Giles McNeill, at a Parish Council Meeting convened to discuss the Lincoln Rugby Football Club's planning application at Nettleham Village Hall, has said:
"West Lindsey District Council, who we know are the planning authority, can only take into account relevant planning considerations. These include: Structure and local plan policies, government planning guidance, planning law and previous decisions, highways safety and traffic issues, noise, disturbance & smells, design, appearance & layout, conservation of historic buildings or trees, residential amenities and environmental impact.
"They can not take into consideration any matter covered by other laws (such as alcohol licensing), private property rights (such as boundary or access disputes), The applicant’s morals or motives, suspected future development, loss of view or effect on value of property, personal position of applicant or objector.
"Let me be clear, planning permission is granted or refused based on planning reasons. This provides the basis for my view.
"We know that a report will be prepared by the Planning Case Officer including all the relevant information and a recommendation to either grant or refuse planning permission.
"Statistics available from the council tell us that the majority of applications – around 91% – are determined under ‘delegated powers’. This means that the Director of Resources has the authority to make a decision based on the information provided by the Planning Case Officer. The remaining 9% of applications are considered by the Planning Committee which meets monthly. Applications will go to committee if; they have received a significant number of objections – which I suspect to be the case in this instance; if the Officer’s recommendation is contrary to the issues raised by objectors; or at the request of a Ward Councillor. I would like to seek a guarantee from our district representatives Councillors Leaning and Frith to ensure that the decision is going to be put before the Planning Committee and not made by the Director of Resources as has happened at their direction in the past – to the frustration of some on this council.
"A lot of nonsense has been banded about in the press and in letters & e-mails. For instance I do not know where the rumour started about there being eleven flood-lit pitches but for those who have read the planning application this is patently untrue – two flood-lit pitch and one mobile secondary system.
"Those who say ‘no’ hold their beliefs every bit as strongly those who say ‘yes’. However, the ‘No’ camp would have us believe that their view prevails across the entire community – a petition collected at the public meeting held by Mr. Perkins at the start of November, indicated that those attending were 96% against and 4% in favour (on a sample of 104). This contrasts sharply with the poll conducted on my blog where figures at the close of the poll earlier today showed only 14% against and 85% in favour (on a larger sample of 171) – our community is divided on this issue.
"In the Nettleham Parish Plan 2007, adopted in May of that year, one of the key objectives identified was the acquisition of land for recreational purposes. The Parish Council had hoped to obtain use of the Police Field, but in a recent letter to the Parish Council from the Police Authority they have firmly rebuffed the idea. The plan made clear this was a preferred option but that alternative options may be considered. Residents who responded to the draft action plan broadly supported encouraging further development of sports fields in the community. 46% agreed with the statement, 36% expressed a neutral view whilst only 18% disagreed.
"I have looked at, in detail, the planning application documentation. I have visited the site. I have followed the coverage in the local press. I have received and responded to correspondence.
"Based on the criteria previously cited I believe that this application is in line with structure and local plan policies, government planning guidance together with planning law and previous decisions. I do not believe that the development would cause any undue disturbance or smells and has no impact on the conservation of historic buildings or trees. I believe that the development would represent a significant addition to residential amenities.
"I like many residents have my concerns about this proposal’s impact upon traffic, both within the village centre and at the junction onto the A158 at the top of Lodge Lane. I have looked at the Transport Statement by Turvey Consultancy Limited and I am sure many residents will be concerned that it forecasts a doubling of traffic on Lodge Lane heading towards the junction of the A158 at peak times. However, as the report makes clear the increase will still leave traffic flow levels at a rate below that which is considered to be capacity for the highway. The only failing of this report is the seeming omission of consideration of the impact of the use of the site by students from Lincoln University on Wednesday afternoons – when traditional inter-mural sport is played. However, I do not foresee that the traffic generated by this activity would be greater than at times of peak flow at the weekend.
"In my view any noise generated at the site will not significantly add to the noise currently generated by activities currently undertaken by Football, Tennis and Cricket at Mulsanne Park. With regard to the design, appearance & layout of the site it is my view that the use of redbrick and timber larch boarding is a good choice to maintain the character of a rural setting. I would prefer that the roofing be terracotta pan-tiles to tie in with local Lincolnshire architectural traditions. I have read with interest the comments made by Defend A Northern Green Environmental Rim (DANGER) who have been at the forefront of protecting this village from coalescing with Lincoln for many years. Whilst I understand their desire for a single story building, the fact remains there is at least one property contiguous with the land of the proposed development which has two stories. There is clear need to provide an adequate platform for spectators, minimise the footprint of the development and measures taken to reduce the visual impact of the site seem thoughtful and appear sufficient.
"I am concerned by one paragraph in the Ecological Survey and would like assurance that development of the site will either take place outside of the nesting season or a thorough search for active nests will be undertaken prior to development beginning . Assuming that this assurance is forthcoming I can see no reason why environmental impact would be a consideration – in fact as Cllr. Hill notes in his representation the development will substantially improve, in his view, the environmental situation.
"In conclusion, it is my belief that there are no planning reasons on which the Planning Authority would have grounds to refuse planning permission."