Grantham Journal column: Concerns over garden village of 3,700 homes

SKDC Councillor Charmaine Morgan.
SKDC Councillor Charmaine Morgan.

At this week’s meeting in South Kesteven District Council of the Development Management Committee a number of residents spoke out raising concerns regarding the significant expansion plans for Grantham.

As a neighbouring ward Councillor for St Vincents Ward, whose residents will be most affected by the plans to develop Spitalgate Heath, I listed a number of the key issues. Despite the scale of this development being the size of a new town, there was no specific commitment to deliver homes that will meet the needs of lower income local residents. The proposals around ‘affordable housing’ have so far been overshadowed by the cost of the Southern Quadrant Relief Road, which the landowner is required to make a significant contribution towards. There was little mention of Social Housing at the meeting. Other concerns regarding the significant highways impact on traffic going INTO Grantham, especially roads off the McDonalds Junction and Harrowby Road were given little weight. So severe is this that LCC Highways have unusually taken the step to limit the site to no more than 150 new homes until the Relief Road is completed. However many locals query the assumptions about the severity of impact once the Relief Road is built.

After some debate over the purpose of the meeting, the committee finally voted to move forward with how the money raised by the site through Section 106 funding to be considered in a few months. If the scheme is to be viable and benefit our town they must commit to a 35 per cent affordable housing quota. They must address the traffic and provide pedestrian facilities at the McDonalds Junction. They must invest in increased Car Parking in Grantham Town Centre. They must prevent significant traffic down Harrowby Road. They must reconsider the River walkway opposite Anson Close. The proposed irreversible destruction of buried archaeology including a Roman Town should not go ahead. Grantham is just over an hour by train from London and could have a share of the £billions generated in tourism. We will be short-sightedly bulldozing over two thousand years of history, after some photographs and artefacts have been taken, losing a valuable opportunity forever if the current scheme goes ahead.

Thanks to Government policy, South Kesteven District Council has little or no say in the future of vital health services which serve our community under threat which include Grantham A&E and the Glenfield Hospital Children’s Heart unit, yet has a Duty of Care for the wellbeing of its residents. SKDC has little money to build new homes itself, yet has the responsibility to house those in need and meet housing targets. This makes SKDC heavily reliant on private landowners and developers. The Council will be penalised by this Government if it does not. Government policy puts the Council in a conflicted position as it relies increasingly on the funds from Council Tax and bonuses from new development in future to run key public services across the District. Major investment is needed in our area. If it is to go ahead without damaging what we have then the Government must also be prepared to contribute more towards the infrastructure we all rely on. And, without adequate health and social care services in place it will be more than money at stake.