Secretary of State may have final say on Humberston Fitties 50-week lease issue
CAMPAIGNERS who want to stay on the Humberston Fitties for 50 weeks of the year fought passionately at the landmark hearing to discuss their future – but warnings from the Environment Agency have cast doubt over it going their way.
Addressing North East Lincolnshire Council's Humberston Fitties Select Committee at Cleethorpes Town Hall yesterday, Fitties Owners Residents' Association Bungalows (FORAB) argued extending their time allowed on the holiday park from 44 weeks to 50 weeks would not only benefit chalet owners but the whole of Cleethorpes by utilising the Fitties' unique heritage as a tourist attraction for the resort.
Members also dismissed the Environment Agency's evidence that the Fitties is at a "high risk" of flooding.
As reported, 75 per cent of the 320 chalet owners voted in favour of extending the current 44 weeks occupancy to 50 weeks in a referendum by NELC last year.
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But at yesterday's hearing, the Environment Agency said it would not back the application due to the Fitties' one in 75 years risk of flooding, made more severe by the fragile infrastructure of the park.
Coastal advisor for the EA, Mark Robinson, said: "If an application to build a holiday park here was made in this day and age, especially looking at the types of units that would be there, we would simply say it was not a good idea.
"Given the facts presented today and what is stated in national government planning policy framework, we think the risk will increase year on year. There is uncertainty about the long term future and therefore we would not support the application to extend the occupancy."
The Fitties is at risk of flooding due to the risk of tidal surges and storms during January and February when the Fitties is closed after 4pm.
But FORAB disputes the EA's scientific findings and at the meeting quoted findings from their independent study by Three Counties Risk Assessment, which put them at a 1 in 1,000 years chance of flooding.
Chairman Paul Harwood said: "Sea levels may or may not rise in the future but the reality is nobody knows for certain. While any risk may be argued possible, it cannot be argued predictable with any degree of accuracy or confidence.
"The figures are just not sufficiently reliable to make an informed judgement with any degree of confidence. No one knows the exact likelihood of flooding or even if the Fitties will ever flood. But what we can say is if a proper flood evacuation scheme was in place there would be absolutely no risk to life at all."
The EA's refusal was backed by North East Lincolnshire planning officer, Jonathan Cadd, who stated without the approval of the EA, they would have to put the final decision to the secretary of state.
He said: "We consider a cautioned approach in terms of how we look at flood risk and would be guided by the EA. We would probably recommend refusal."
The second day of the two-day hearing will include a site visit. The select committee will then submit their recommendations to Cabinet.