Grantham Journal column: Council must show vision

Courtney Finn
Courtney Finn
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Planning Application S16/1810 for Highway works and Parks: The Poplar Farm estate is planned to be 1300 homes and a large roundabout access is required to Barrowby Road at its junction with Gloucester Road along with a “Ghost island” junction further towards the A1 which will connect to the Gladman Homes 300 dwellings development for which planning approval has now been given.

The Application consists of a 49 page Technical Access Note which concludes that the junctions would work within capacity and will operate satisfactorily with minimal queuing using traffic forecasts for 2024. The 49 pages shows plans of the junctions and a dense mass of traffic statistics that only traffic experts will understand. Our councillors and the rest of us must rely on the experts at Lincs County Council Highways to understand it for us.

It is good that the law requires all planning applications to be made public but there should be a requirement for technical data to be explained so that the man on the Clapham Omnibus (the average person) can understand the numbers and the case being made. The application also contains a 10 page Road Safety Audit done in June 2016 which states it was not done with the benefit of any traffic forecasts despite these being in the Technical notes. Some good recommendations are made but the audit looks more like a theoretical desk exercise without recourse to the traffic information.

Grantham has many thousands of new homes being built and planned all around the town. All the planning applications say that there will be no discernible increase in traffic congestion, only a couple of minutes perhaps on cross town journeys. It is impossible for local people to judge the evidence on which these claims are made and by the time the homes are all built probably none of today’s planners or councillors will be around to defend the decisions. With the exception of the Southern relief road and the road across the valley to Great Gonerby from the Muddle Go Nowhere there is no additional road infrastructure planned or even talked about, despite there being possible routes that are worth investigating . . . Manthorpe Road/A607 to Londonthorpe Lane at the Belton Park Lion Gates for one.

The new massive estates have some recreation and playing field space but where are the new parks that all good towns have? It is wonderful to see the enjoyment families get from the pool and facilities at Wyndham Park but we need another one for the Grantham of the future. Parks are highly valued and urban parks are often the only green spaces where people can meet, play, relax and hold events. We are building the smallest new homes in Europe with either no gardens or match box size ones so public park space is even more critical to both the landscape of new developments and to public health. In urban areas it is said that 71% of users consider spending time in their local park important or essential to their quality of life.

Visit Britain says, of the 31m tourists visiting Britain, over a third enjoy visiting a park or garden making it one of the most popular activities. The Heritage Lottery Fund is helping Wyndham Park and between 1996 and 2006 has provided more than £538m of grant funding to over 220 individual parks and by 2014 this had increased to £700m. So parks are popular and a key element of the green infrastructure of our towns and cities. All our new housing developments have green spaces but none are designated as public parks. Park keepers’ budgets have been reduced in recent years as local authority finances have tightened and yet SKDC have done a great job to maintain and enhance our local parks. We now want more of them for the vast increase in population that the government insist we must have in Grantham in future years. The great entrepreneurs and enlightened landowners of Victorian times gave us many of our existing parks and we now need some vision from our council and our politicians to provide the infrastructure to make the future Grantham the place we all wish it to be. This means allowing us to understand the traffic surveys and have a plan for future roads and at least one more proper park. If Grantham is to grow to 60,000 people, we also of course need a fully functioning hospital.