Grantham Journal letter: Does town need a shopping village?

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Regarding the new retail park to be situated at King31, I’m not against appropriate development, and I think that a shopping village is more attractive than warehousing and industrial units, but I have a couple of concerns.

Firstly, and let’s nip this in the bud, when the developers try to tell us that visitors to the centre will also visit Grantham town, they won’t, they will exit the A1, go to the car park, go shopping, have a coffee and something to eat , at the outlets there, and then go home.

People who visit Bicester shopping village, don’t go into Bicester, and I bet people who currently visit Downtown and Boundary Mill at the moment, don’t bother to come into Grantham afterwards.

We’re told that the shopping village will put Grantham on the map.

When someone mentions Bicester to you, do they speak of the town, of it’s history, it’s architecture? Well Grantham will simply be that place up the A1 with a shopping village.

Bicester has also had the benefit of a £70 million pound town centre redevelopment, will Grantham?

Secondly, and of more concern is the road infrastructure. We are told already that 3.5 million visitors a year are expected. Lets be generous and say 4 million will come, in 2 million cars. This equates to an extra 11,000 cars a day on the A1. The centre is likely to be open about 12 hours a day, so, 11,000 becomes 22,000, who arrive, and also leave. This leaves us with 44,000 additional vehicle movements a day using the A1. That’s 3,000 an hour, 61 each minute, one car every second. Additionally, once the A1 is linked to Spittalgate level, all of the A52 traffic from Nottingham, and more, will use this link, avoiding the town centre and travel to Gainsborough Corner past the shopping village.

The fiasco we already face daily at this junction will pale into insignificance once the new A1 link is opened before, (if) the rest of the mythical Southern Relief Road ever appears, and I’ve made no mention of the car owners in the 15,000 plus new homes to be built. The weight of traffic on the A1 will mean that it will simply grind to a halt every day. The stretch of the A1 past Grantham, in fact between Peterborough and Newark, is already unfit for purpose. It would not be built today in its current form. The lay-bys are dangerous, the slip roads are too short. In other parts of the country cross over junctions, where drivers are permitted to cross the main carriageway to turn, as at Great Ponton, were closed years ago, simply because it was recognized that they were just too dangerous.

The sad truth is that more collisions will happen, and people are going to die, to go shopping. My request to the developers, SKDC and LCC is to consider this fully, don’t be greedy, and, if you’re going to allow this, which I suspect the rubber stamp is already poised, then ensure it benefits Grantham first. My problem is, unfortunately, history shows that SKDC and LCC couldn’t run a bath, let alone oversee the development of a large regional facility.

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