The rejection of the compulsory purchase order for the Tanvic and Jewson sites on Wharf Road last week has been welcomed by the Labour group.
The Secretary of State said the CPO could not be justified because there were no businesses lined up to move on to the site which Lincolnshire County Council and South Kesteven District Council want to develop through their Grantham Growth Point project. They say the development of offices, hotels and homes could lead to the creation of 1,000 jobs.
But Charmaine Morgan, leader of the Labour Group on SKDC, says the plan would have a detrimental effect on local jobs and the town’s heritage.
Coun Morgan said: “Grantham needs inward investment and job creation. But this should be through the provision of a clear strategy and through sensitive development which is not at the cost of our existing heritage or regardless of the impact on local businesses, services and communities.
“The news that the Secretary of State has refused the compulsory purchase of land in Grantham by SKDC and LCC is not surprising. The Labour Group of councillors opposed the Grantham Area Action Plan, which included this development. We were concerned at the loss of existing jobs, especially given the current economic climate. We support the position of the Secretary of State that the loss of long-term local jobs at Jewsons and Tanvic could not be justified although his viewpoint is somewhat narrow given this is the main stated reason.
“Some other key concerns regarding this specific development were that the proposal for a modern business incubation site near the railway station would have had a detrimental impact on the historic character of the area. The former engine building (now Jewsons} and Victorian streets, grew around the railway line to support the railway workers. The scale of the proposed development would have dwarfed nearby residencies and affected the setting of Grantham’s Victorian railway station. Nor was the development in keeping with The Maltings building opposite.
“By focussing on the Station Approach Development SKDC has ignored the Victorian parade of shops in the Conservation Area on the London Road side of the same block. SKDC and LCC have offered little support to local businesses there and allowed this key gateway into town to deteriorate whilst proving through work elsewhere that if it were considered a priority investment could be found.
“Whilst local councillors were consulted on this project, ultimately the decision to go ahead lay with Lincolnshire County Council. Our views carried limited weight.
“Similarly, the decision over which building would be used on the alternative Wharf Road site lacked the involvement of local people. Only a few South Kesteven District council officers and Conservative councillors were involved in selecting the building design put forward to the Development Control Committee. With the loss of this project and plans to push ahead with the Northern and Southern Quadrant developments there will undoubtedly be pressure now on South Kesteven District Council to identify alternative development sites. They must have a clear vision and listen to our local community.”
Last week Paul Wheatley, head of regeneration for the county council, said the Secretary of State’s decision would not derail the project. Council officers are due to meet soon to discuss how the project progresses.