We are delighted to be introducing the South East Lincolnshire Local Plan: Publication Version, which, once adopted, will be the new Local Plan for the area, helping to shape the growth of Boston Borough and South Holland for future generations.

This Local Plan takes account of the comments that we received during the two consultations in 2016 and is also based on the latest information on housing, employment, flood risk and transport. Inside this Local Plan are a revised suite of planning policies to help deliver growth in South East Lincolnshire to 2036, together with a set of proposed sites for housing, employment and shopping development and other areas identified for protection.

This Local Plan must make sure that our settlements grow in the right way, ensure we have enough homes and employment in the right places, at the right time, supported by the right infrastructure so that our new and existing communities are more sustainable. Importantly for those who live, work or visit the area, the Local Plan continues to safeguard and enhance the things that make South East Lincolnshire distinctive; its wealth of historic buildings, its attractive market towns and villages and large areas of open countryside.

If you live or work in South East Lincolnshire or want to develop or do business here, we strongly recommend you look at the Publication Version of the Local Plan to see how these policies might affect you. We suggest that you have a look at the maps for each settlement which show the proposed sites for new housing, employment, shops and schools, the settlement boundaries and a range of other features that might affect you and the life you want to live in South East Lincolnshire.

This is the final opportunity for you to comment on the emerging plan. Any comments you make will be carefully considered, including by an independent Inspector, before the Local Plan is adopted. Please take the time to read the guidance note we have prepared at that explains the types of comments we can consider at this stage.

Councillor Peter Bedford Councillor Roger Gambba-Jones
Chairman Vice-Chairman
South East Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Planning Committee

1.0 Introduction

1.0.1 This document represents a significant stage in the preparation of the South East Lincolnshire Local Plan (the Local Plan). It has been produced by the South East Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Planning Committee (the Joint Committee). The Joint Committee is a partnership of Boston Borough, South Holland District and Lincolnshire County Councils who are working together to create a single Local Plan for South East Lincolnshire (the name for the areas of South Holland District Council [South Holland] and Boston Borough Council [Boston Borough]. See Appendix 1 for more information.

1.0.2 The Local Plan will guide development and the use of land in South East Lincolnshire from the 1 April 2011 to 31 March 2036, and will help to shape how the area will change over this period. The Local Plan must be based upon adequate, up-to-date and relevant evidence about the area’s characteristics and future prospects, and must reflect the vision and aspirations of the local community. It will need to deal effectively with the issues facing the area, and has many roles, including:

  • identifying those areas of land that need to be developed for new homes, shops, or employment uses in order to meet the area’s needs;
  • identifying those areas of land which must be protected from development – perhaps because of their historic or environmental importance;
  • ensuring that infrastructure and local facilities are provided at the same time as new homes, shops or employment uses; and
  • setting out policies against which planning applications can be judged.

1.0.3 Until this Local Plan is adopted, the Development Plan for South East Lincolnshire consists of the ‘saved policies’ of the Boston Borough Local Plan and the South Holland District Local Plan as determined by the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (see Appendix 2) and the adopted policies of the Minerals and Waste Plan1.

1.0.4 Once adopted, this Local Plan and other adopted development plan documents will form the statutory Development Plan for the area. The Development Plan informs a range of implementation plans and decisions on planning applications. When this Local Plan is adopted, the development plan will be as shown below. Other documents are being prepared in accordance with the Local Development Scheme date or any successor.

Figure 1: Relationship of the South East Lincolnshire Local Plan and other planning documents

1.1. How far has the preparation of the Local Plan progressed?

1.1.1 This document is the Joint Committee’s Local Plan: Publication Version. It sets out an overall vision of how South East Lincolnshire and settlements within it should develop, and the strategic objectives that will ensure key spatial issues are addressed. This is followed by planning policies, arranged around six themes, and information about how, when and with whose resources the Local Plan will be delivered. The document also includes information about how progress in delivering the strategy will be managed and monitored, and a separate Policies Map and its ‘Inset Maps’ that illustrate the locations and sites to which policies refer.

1.1.2 This Local Plan deals with all land use and development issues affecting South East Lincolnshire, except for minerals and waste (see Figure 1; these are covered in the Lincolnshire Minerals and Waste Local Plan1).

1.1.3 Publication of this Local Plan follows three earlier consultations (see Figure 2 below). The representations received in earlier consultations, together with updated national planning policy, recently completed evidence and the findings of a Sustainability Appraisal2, Habitats Regulations Assessment3, Whole Plan Viability Assessment4 and Infrastructure Delivery Plan5 have informed the preparation of this document. Appendix 3 lists the studies that have underpinned policy development.

Figure 2: Local Plan Timetable

1.2. Sustainability Appraisal and Habitats Regulations Assessment

1.2.1 An integrated Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment2 has been carried out at key stages in the preparation of this Local Plan. Full details can be found in the accompanying Sustainability Appraisal report2. The Appraisal of the Local Plan has been an iterative process and it has played an important role in developing and refining the contents of this Local Plan. Feedback from the appraisal process has helped shape the policies and site allocations included in this document.

1.2.2 A Habitats Regulations Assessment3 (HRA) has also been undertaken to ensure that there are no significant adverse effects of the Publication Version of the Local Plan on Natura 2000 sites. The HRA3 has discounted all impacts except for a risk to the Wash SPA and Gibraltar Point SPA (which form part of the overarching Wash and North Norfolk Coast European Marine Site) from recreational disturbance from new residential development. As a consequence, the HRA3 has made a number of recommendations for project-level assessment and mitigation provision, which has been incorporated into relevant policies in this Local Plan.

1.2.3 For major residential developments within 10km of The Wash and North Norfolk Coast European Marine Site, a project-level Habitats Regulations Assessments will be required. All major housing proposals, including the sustainable urban extensions at Boston (site Sou006), Spalding (sites Pin024/Pin045) and Holbeach West (site Hob048) should be designed and delivered with suitable avoidance and mitigation measures, as indicated by the project-level Habitats Regulations Assessment, including Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANGs).

1.2.4 The potential for cumulative effects will be monitored through the Annual Monitoring Report.

2.0 Introduction

2.0.1 The policies and proposals in this document have been prepared having regard to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)9, supplemented by the National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG)10, the Government’s East Inshore and East Offshore Marine Plan11 and individual policies on specific topics, such as traveller sites, sustainable drainage, and starter homes. The Local Plan must be consistent with these Government policies but, by and large, it does not repeat them – instead, it seeks to build on them and provide a South East Lincolnshire interpretation of them. At a more local level, the Local Plan also has to be consistent with Lincolnshire Minerals and Waste Local Plan Core Strategy and Development Management Policies document1 as well as the emerging Site Locations document12.

2.1 Duty to co-operate

2.1.1 The 2011 Localism Act introduced the ‘duty to co-operate’, which requires local planning authorities to consider joint approaches to plan-making, and to engage in partnership working on strategic issues that go beyond their area. To achieve this, the Joint Committee must work with neighbouring local planning authorities and other bodies relevant to South East Lincolnshire. These are the Environment Agency, Historic England, Natural England, the Civil Aviation Authority, the Homes and Communities Agency, local clinical commissioning groups, the National Health Service Commissioning Board, the Office of Rail Regulation, the local highway authority, and the Marine Management Organisation.

2.1.2 In addition to the above, the Joint Committee has had regard to the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership, the Greater Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership and the Lincolnshire Local Nature Partnership in preparing this plan. A full statement of the actions13 taken by the Committee under duty to co-operate accompanies this Local Plan.

2.2 Neighbourhood Planning

2.2.1 The Localism Act 2011 gives local communities the power to help decide where development should go and the type and design of that development, by preparing neighbourhood plans for their areas. The Act places a duty on the Local Authorities to support such work.

2.2.2 Once adopted, neighbourhood plans become part of the statutory development plan for the area. Planning applications should be determined in accordance with the development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.

2.2.3 Town and parish councils and ‘neighbourhood forums’ in South East Lincolnshire may set out their own planning policies and site allocations in neighbourhood plans. However, their neighbourhood plans will need to be in general conformity with the strategic policies of this Local Plan. These are:

Strategic Policy
1: Presumption in favour of Sustainable Development
2: Spatial Strategy
5: Strategic Approach to Flood Risk
6: Meeting Physical Infrastructure and Service Needs
7: Developer Contributions
8: Improving South East Lincolnshire’s Employment Land Portfolio
10: Meeting Objectively Assessed Housing Needs
11: Distribution of New Housing
21: Retail Hierarchy
24: The Natural Environment
25: The Historic Environment
27: Climate Change and Renewable and Low Carbon Energy
28: Community, Health and Well-being
29: Delivering a more Sustainable Transport Network

Table 1: Strategic Policies

2.3 Spatial Portrait

2.3.1 South East Lincolnshire covers approximately 1,100 square kilometres and lies to the west and south-west of the Wash estuary. Comprising Boston Borough and South Holland District, the area is in the south-eastern corner of the East Midlands Region, bordering directly onto the counties of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.

Figure 3: South East Lincolnshire Key Diagram

2.3.2 The Local Plan area is sparsely populated with approximately 158,100 residents14. However, South East Lincolnshire has seen one of the largest increases in population since the 2001 Census. The population of Boston Borough has increased by 19.3% (to 66,500) since 2001, and in the same period South Holland has seen an increase of 18.1% (to 90,400)15. As the population growth for Lincolnshire has been 13.1%15, the growth for the Local Plan area is significant, particularly given its relatively marginalised location away from the conurbations of the East Midlands. Furthermore, the Local Plan area attracts some 14,000 seasonal workers in agriculture and horticulture annually.

2.3.3 In South East Lincolnshire there are some 70 recognised settlements. The two largest centres of population are Boston and Spalding with approximately 33,000 and 29,000 residents respectively14. In South Holland, the towns of Holbeach, Crowland, Donington, Long Sutton and Sutton Bridge are freestanding centres. Holbeach, with a population of over 8,000, is the largest14. In Boston Borough the outlying settlements are smaller with Kirton, Swineshead, Butterwick, Old Leake, Wrangle and Sutterton being the largest. However, each provides services and local employment opportunities for residents, including from the surrounding rural areas.

2.3.4 South East Lincolnshire has a total of 73,800 economically active residents16. 73.3% of residents aged 16-64 are in employment, which is just below the regional and national averages16. Unemployment rates in the area remain relatively low and have been steadily decreasing between 2012 and 2016. However, average earnings in South East Lincolnshire are considerably lower than those elsewhere in the region or UK, although average earnings for employees working in South Holland are higher than for those in Boston Borough.

2.3.5 Agriculture is a key employment sector in South East Lincolnshire and the majority of businesses in the area are classed as ‘rural’, which reflects the dominance of agriculture in Boston Borough and South Holland. Furthermore, the region’s horticultural business is the second-most important in the UK with an estimated annual value of £470 million (2010). Food processing is also important to the area’s economy with an above average number of people employed in the manufacturing sector16. The Port of Boston is one of Boston Borough’s major employers and continues to do well, benefiting from ample available space and storage areas.

2.3.6 In terms of occupation, South East Lincolnshire has a high proportion of people employed in operative and elementary occupations and a low number with managerial, professional and associate professional jobs when compared to the wider East Midlands and Great Britain17. The area is therefore yet to fulfil its potential in generating high value-added ‘knowledge economy’ jobs. However, South East Lincolnshire’s workforce is also comparatively poorly qualified when considering the average for the East Midlands and Great Britain17. This is particularly apparent in Boston Borough where up-skilling local residents remain a priority for those within the education and business community.

2.3.7 In South East Lincolnshire, the take-up of employment land is slow, although recent development within the Kirton Distribution Park and at Wardentree Lane, Spalding is a positive sign. The recently approved scheme for the expansion of the University of Lincoln Campus at the Holbeach Food Enterprise Zone is an important step in trying to help attract more value-added knowledge economy jobs to the area in the long-term. The number of businesses starting-up in the area has increased year on year since 2011 by 20% overall, many are small-scale but play an important role in supporting the local economy18.

2.3.8 In general, South East Lincolnshire is well provided with shopping facilities19. The quantity and quality, in terms of accessibility and the range of retailers and retail formats, is broadly appropriate to meet the needs of local people. It has a healthy market share of convenience goods expenditure but some comparison goods expenditure leaks to the south and east19.

2.3.9 Boston town centre is the defined retail centre for Boston Borough whilst Spalding town centre performs a similar role in South Holland. Holbeach, Long Sutton, Crowland, Donington Kirton and Sutton Bridge provide residents with a range of shops and services to meet everyday needs. In 2015, vacancy rates for retail units in the area’s town centres remain relatively high. Despite this, footfall through Boston town centre has been increasing in recent years, and both Boston and Spalding are popular on market days.

2.3.10 The Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015 ranked Boston Borough and South Holland District the 66th and 134th most deprived out of the 326 English Local Authorities20. The most deprived areas are concentrated in the centre and north-western (Fenside) area of Boston town and in Sutton Bridge, South Holland20. There are a variety of problems affecting both areas, including: low income; poor health; involuntary exclusion from employment; and poor educational attainment and skills. More generally, many residents face barriers to housing because of unaffordability, which can lead to poor living environments for some. Many residents living within the rural area are also reliant on the car to provide access to shops and services, particularly with public transport being more limited in these areas.

2.3.11 South East Lincolnshire has approximately 67,000 dwellings (28,340 in Boston Borough and 38,660 in South Holland) occupied by around 64,600 households15. The type of housing in the area reflects its rural nature, with a higher proportion of properties being detached than the national average15. The majority of South East Lincolnshire’s housing stock is owner occupied with private rented accommodation as the second most popular form of tenure15. The number of social rented properties in Boston Borough is above the national average, but in South Holland the figure is below15.

2.3.12 House prices in the area remain well below those in Lincolnshire as well as the rest of England. This is despite the fact that average house prices in Boston Borough and South Holland increased by 159% and 154% respectively between 2000 and 201021. The shortage of affordable housing is a significant issue for the area. South East Lincolnshire lies within two housing market areas; there is a requirement for 100 affordable dwellings per annum in Boston Borough22 and 280 in South Holland23,24 to 2036. However, the delivery of affordable homes in recent years has been much lower than this requirement; just 22 and 91 affordable dwellings were completed in Boston Borough and South Holland in 2015/16.

2.3.13 South East Lincolnshire is located at the south-eastern limit of coastal Lincolnshire which is recognised as being poorly connected – especially by the highway network – to the rest of the region. Just three Principal ‘A’ Roads connect the area and these are heavily used by a considerable volume of HGVs and farm vehicles, and other slow moving vehicles such as caravans accessing the Lincolnshire and Norfolk coasts in the summer.

2.3.14 Passenger transport to places outside the area is mainly by bus or rail. However, rail provision in South East Lincolnshire is relatively limited in both coverage and service level, and passenger usage of Boston and Spalding’s rail stations has declined in recent years25. Currently, rail services to Nottingham, Lincoln, Peterborough and beyond operate at hourly intervals or longer. Bus patronage in Lincolnshire as a whole has also decreased over the last few years. In South East Lincolnshire, the primary inter-urban bus network provides separate links to Boston from Lincoln and Skegness, and to Spalding from King’s Lynn (via Holbeach) and Peterborough (via Crowland)26. This network is supported by an on-demand bus service (CallConnect) that operates in response to pre-booked requests without a fixed timetable. Other commercial bus services link the towns of Boston and Spalding directly and provide links to the rural-hinterland settlements of the two towns. Three ‘Into Town’ routes in Boston provide regular services linking residential neighbourhoods to the town centre on a 30-minute cycle throughout the day. In Spalding, two ‘Into Town’ routes provide a similar service.

2.3.15 Car ownership in South East Lincolnshire is above the county and national average, reflecting the rural nature of the area, limited rail provision and lack of access to services in some areas15. It is therefore unsurprising that the car or van is the primary form of transport for residents travelling to work15. In South Holland, 45% of people travel to work by car, which is significantly higher than the national (35%) and Lincolnshire (40%) averages15. Boston Borough has a rate that is marginally below the county average but marginally above the national15. Bicycle use in Boston Borough is relatively high, as levels are nearly double that of Lincolnshire and four times the national rate. In South Holland, bicycle use is comparable to the rest of Lincolnshire15.

2.3.16 Although the landscape of South East Lincolnshire has a very flat and rural character, it is shaped and dominated by agricultural and horticultural activity. This means that extensive views and large open skies are common vistas, where vertical structures like churches (such as the ‘Boston Stump’), pylons and wind turbines draw the eye, defining man’s historical and modern day influence on the area. Field hedgerows and wooded areas are limited to lining roads or around settlements. The open and flat landscape of the area also means that it is sensitive to development.

2.3.17 A huge part of the area has been reclaimed through a vast network of drainage systems and coastal defences that have created some of the richest and most extensive agricultural and horticultural resources in the country. The flat character of the land and its proximity to the Wash estuary means that the main watercourses – such as the River Witham, River Welland, River Nene and connected drainage channels – have tidal influences which require everyday management through the operation of pumping stations and sluices. Climate change, along with the associated predicted effects on sea-level rise, brings the threat of extensive flooding that could affect whole settlements. This is predicted to be common in 100 years’ time as a consequence of extreme high tides and storm-surges causing major breaches in coastal and/or tidal defences. Even a minor flood event has the potential to inundate valuable farmland with saline water and negate productivity for many years.

2.3.18 South East Lincolnshire’s nationally and locally-designated wildlife sites provide different levels of protection for a growing range of protected and priority habitats and species. The Wash is a natural habitat of international importance and has Ramsar, Special Protection Area (SPA), and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) designation as well as also being protected as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and National Nature Reserve (NNR). Besides the Wash, the area is home to: 2 SSSI’s, 3 Local Nature Reserves, 81 Local Wildlife Sites and 2 RSPB reserves.

2.3.19 The area’s interlinked waterways are part of the rich ecological network supporting the biodiversity of the area. Historically, these watercourses were the main transport corridors for trade with inland Lincolnshire and beyond. Today, this role is more limited but they are a resource with a largely unrealised potential for recreation and tourism. The Fens Waterways Project that is underway seeks to link Lincoln and Ely with an inland waterway and should have tourism benefits for the area, as well as helping to connect habitats.

2.3.20 There are 2 Air Quality Management Area’s (AQMA) within Boston to monitor levels of nitrogen dioxide27. When assessed in 2016, it was concluded that consideration can be given to the revocation of the Bargate Bridge AQMA, although it was recommended that this be postponed until the impact of a new distributor road and proposed residential development in the area can be properly assessed27. There is still an air quality issue in the Haven Bridge AQMA27.

2.3.21 South East Lincolnshire has a long and varied history. Some of its archaeological remains date back to Roman times when salt manufacture was an important industry, particularly in the south of the area. Agriculture also has ancient roots and managing tidal inundation to protect farmland is evident in banks and ditches dating from Anglo-Saxon times. Boston has been a major centre as a port and commercial area since the Middle Ages and later played a significant role in the Pilgrim Fathers’ journey to the new world and the founding of the USA. Today, the area has 24 Conservation Areas (13 of which are in South Holland), over 1000 listed buildings, 43 Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAMs) and 2 Registered Parks and Gardens. These assets are highly valued for the important contribution they make to local distinctiveness and identity. The town of Boston has three conservation areas and its built heritage is regarded as being of national significance by Historic England. Both Boston town and Spalding retain a strong commercial function within their historic cores that attracts visitors generated by the tourist economies of Lincolnshire and Norfolk, adjoining to the east. There are many pressures on the historic environment and the percentage of Conservation Areas, SAMs and Grade I and II* listed buildings deemed to be ‘at risk’ in South East Lincolnshire is above the national average28.

2.3.22 For a sparsely-populated, predominantly rural area, South East Lincolnshire, surprisingly, is of great importance in the national context; its contribution to food production and food security is significant, while its ability to conserve scarce resources and develop sustainable energy solutions will contribute to meeting the challenge of climate change.

2.4 A Vision for South East Lincolnshire

2.4.1 The level of growth expected to occur in South East Lincolnshire over the Local Plan period needs to be delivered in a sustainable manner. A vision has therefore been prepared to guide the sustainable development of the area. The following vision is locally distinctive and aspirational, but is also realistic and deliverable.

Our Vision

By 2036 growth will be concentrated in South East Lincolnshire’s most sustainable settlements, taking into account the sensitivity of the predominantly rural, flat, open landscape and the risk of flooding. The majority of development will be focussed in Boston and Spalding, but there will also be an appropriate level of growth in some of the area’s smaller towns and villages to ensure that they remain resilient and sustainable.

The delivery of new sustainably-designed homes (both market and affordable), as well as additional employment opportunities, will meet the needs of all the population. This will be supported by the necessary facilities, services and infrastructure that create healthy, mixed and balanced communities. Through growth, health inequalities and community deprivation will have been reduced.

The delivery of all new and/or improved infrastructure to support growth, including strategic highway improvements and measures to reduce the causes and impacts of flooding, will be phased to ensure that new development is both sustainable and deliverable.

South East Lincolnshire will be better connected by sustainable modes of transport, which will help ensure access to key services and facilities and places of employment is more accessible to all, as well as helping to reduce carbon emissions.

New development will be of a high standard of design and will help South East Lincolnshire mitigate and adapt to climate change. The use of renewable energy technologies and sustainable drainage systems will also help minimise carbon emissions and flood risk respectively.

South East Lincolnshire’s important heritage and natural assets, landscapes and townscapes will have been protected, conserved, and enhanced where appropriate, to ensure that their inherent social, economic and environmental qualities are retained and that opportunities for sustainable tourism can be realised.

The economic base of the area will have been strengthened: the growth of existing businesses in food production, processing and distribution will be supported; our high-quality agricultural land will be protected; and opportunities to diversify the economic base within the settlements, and through appropriate development in the countryside, will have been promoted in a sustainable way. This, alongside improved educational attainment, will help to provide residents with access to higher skilled, better paid jobs close to where they live.

2.5 Strategic Priorities

2.5.1 The following strategic priorities for South East Lincolnshire are the main principles that will be followed to deliver the Local Plan’s vision. The vision and strategic priorities are the starting point for developing the detailed policies and site-specific proposals outlined in this document. Once adopted, they will also be used to help monitor the success of policy implementation.

Strategic Priority
Sustainable Development
1. To deliver sustainable development in South East Lincolnshire that seeks to meet the social and economic needs of the area, whilst protecting and enhancing its environment for the enjoyment of future generations.
2. To ensure that the scale, distribution and type of new development is sustainably located to take account of flood risk across South East Lincolnshire.
3. To ensure that development contributes to the provision of necTo ensure that development contributes to the provision of necessary physical, social and green infrastructure to deliver planned levels of growth at the right time and to mitigate its impacts on existing communities and the environment.
4. To provide the right conditions and sufficient land in appropriate locations to help diversify and strengthen the economic base of South East Lincolnshire to meet the needs of existing businesses, to attract new businesses and sources of employment, and to maximise the potential historic and environmental assets can have for sustainable tourism.
5. To protect a mutually-supportive hierarchy of vibrant self-contained town centres and secure their enhancement by promoting an appropriate mix and scale of retail, leisure and other town centre uses and by maximising opportunities for regeneration.
6. To provide enough choice of land for housing to ensure that the housing stock better meets local housing needs and aspirations, including for older people, first time buyers and those in need of affordable and starter housing.
7. To conserve and enhance South East Lincolnshire’s natural and historic environment and to promote greater access and understanding of assets through new development.
8. To minimise the impact of and adapt to climate change by making more sustainable use of land and resources, reducing exposure to flood risk, promoting sustainable development and reducing human exposure to environmental risks.
9. To promote the more efficient use of land, prioritise the re-use of previously-developed land and to minimise the loss of South East Lincolnshire’s high-quality agricultural land by developing in sustainable locations, at appropriate densities.
10. To provide equal opportunities for everyone who lives, visits, works and invests in South East Lincolnshire by helping to create more sustainable communities, reduce locational disadvantage and upgrade a range of community facilities recognising that these all contribute to the fulfilment, health and well-being of residents and visitors alike.
11. To improve accessibility for all to jobs, services and facilities by sustainable and public transport, to make travel as easy and affordable as possible, both within the area and along key links to and from South East Lincolnshire.
12. To improve South East Lincolnshire’s highway infrastructure, to tackle congestion, improve road safety and make journeys as easy as possible particularly for those living in rural areas and to enhance efficiencies for business.

Table 2: South East Lincolnshire Strategic Priorities