Grantham needs to build eight new homes every week for the next 13 years, a workshop was told on Tuesday.
Housing developer Larkfleet Homes hosted a breakfast workshop to explore options for Grantham growth at the Ramada Hotel, which was attended by around 30 people.
Tony Aspbury of town planning and development consultants Anthony Aspbury Associates, said the town had a “significant challenge” and needed a “step change” in the delivery of new homes because, he said, housing was the key to economic growth and the target of 7,500 new homes and 4,000 new jobs by 2016 was looking more and more difficult to achieve.
“To hit that, we need to double the amount of homes being built each year - that means something like 450 homes per year,” he said.
Stuart Pigrim, chairman of the Grantham Business Club, said the business community was “very positive” about future growth prospects but the town “needed to know what it wanted to be”.
He said Grantham was attractive because of the relatively low cost of housing, its transport links, standard of education, amount of open space and its historical and leisure facilities.
He said: “There is plenty to persuade people to call Grantham home and when they get here, they will find the town is full of people with energy, passion and drive.
“Development has got to be a positive because more people means more business and more money in the town.
“That’s what we all want.”
When asked why the town had not developed quickly enough, Mr Aspbury said: “There are too many eggs in two few baskets.
“We need more sites for housing development and they need to be developed quickly. We need to unlock local potential, so the town can grow.”
Mr Pigrim said: “We also need to link the railway station with the town centre and make sure there is something to enjoy in town at weekends, so people stop going elsewhere.”
Deputy mayor Ian Selby said he was disappointed that only himself and Councillor Alan Davidson from South Kesteven District Council had attended the workshop.
“I think it speaks volumes,” he said. “For too long too many decisions have been made about this town by people who don’t live in Grantham and have no connection with it.
“This has been a very positive gathering. It is up to us to promote the town. We need to be positive.”
Managing director of Larkfleet Homes, Karl Hicks, said it would have been good to have attracted more planners and people who had the town’s future at heart.
He proposed another workshop with more intetrested parties, saying: “We want to attract people and business to the town.
“People regret the loss of Marks & Spencer and the Body Shop and it would be good to know what organisations like that need to see to find Grantham attractive.
“What are their plans for the next five to 10 years and how can we be a part of them?”