The standard letters which are currently been sent out to all objectors are to say that the SoS has decided that the number of objections letters means that there should be a public inquiry into the Lincoln Eastern Bypass. The inquiry will actually be into the full bypass but we would expect it to be almost completely dominated by Hawthorn Road issues. We do not know when it will be held yet but would expect it to be sometime in March. It will probably be held over several days depending on how many objectors choose to speak at the inquiry and is a formal process a bit like a court case. It will be chaired by an independent Inspector from the Planning Inspectorate. They are usually legal or planning experts with experience of chairing planning appeals or road inquiries.
As regards Hawthorn Road the question the Inspector will have to answer is “If the plans for partially closing Hawthorn Road go ahead are there reasonably convenient and safe alternative routes available.” The burden of proof is effectively on objectors to show that the County Council’s plans to partially close Hawthorn Road will mean that objectors are forced to use alternative routes which are unreasonably inconvenient or unsafe. Unfortunately the Inspector is not allowed to consider other wider issues such as whether the closure of Hawthorn Road is the best idea overall or whether the Council consulted properly on the scheme.
We will be doing some more research and putting some basic advice to objectors on our web site in the near future however it must be remembered that those involved in our campaign are residents and although we have relevant technical skills none of us are legally qualified to give advice.
Those who wrote objection letters have several options depending on how much they do or do not want to be involved in the inquiry process. Any comments, verbal presentations or other inputs to the inquiry which are considered by the Inspector are classed as evidence to the inquiry.
The available options include:
1) Allow your objection letter to be your evidence.
2) Provide the inquiry with a more detailed written ‘proof of evidence’ a few weeks before the inquiry which expands on your objection letter.
3) Provide a written proof of evidence and also appear in person at the inquiry and present your argument verbally to the Inspector.
Anyone can attend the inquiry to watch the proceedings although some of the time is spent on less interesting legal issues.
If anyone has further questions please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will try to help if we can.