Change ‘Grantham Area Action Plan’ whilst we still can

It is good to see debate taking place on the pages of the Journal.

I welcome Cllr Frances Cartwright’s clarification that the cabinet of SKDC has the political will to drive forward change for Grantham.

What I find less reassuring is that the cabinet feel that several of my suggestions are already on the radar. This is simply not the case, and I fear this means they do not understand the real issues that are facing this town.

The Grantham Area Action Plan (GAAP) is up for discussion at the next cabinet meeting (11am, 4th July) and the plan pays little mention of town centre employment.

It seems to focus on retail-led regeneration of the town centre, with housing and industrial/warehouse developments on the outskirts.

I would argue that the priorities outlined in the GAAP are misguided and will not achieve the growth and redevelopment of the town that the council seeks. The national high street economy is in a state of flux, with depressing news from companies such as Thorntons and Carpetright.

The council needs to take this into account when drawing up development options. Otherwise the investment will not be forthcoming.

I would like to see the council adopt an employment led regeneration strategy, which will prioritise development sites in the town centre (such as Greyfriars) for employment rather than retail.

By doing this, we will encourage sizeable investment from small and medium size businesses looking to take advantage of quality, high spec offices close to public transport routes and pedestrian access.

This then sets in motion a rolling effect of more footfall, due to employees going to work in the town centre, increased trade for town centre traders and therefore increased investment in the retail offer.

It is important that we strike the right balance of development in the town centre, to provide the jobs, to improve the retail offer and return the centre of town back to its vibrant best.

This is just one area of the GAAP that needs to be reviewed and I would ask the Cabinet of SKDC to set out an alternative approach, to look again at the GAAP and make the changes necessary to help Grantham achieve its true potential.

by David Burling