Grantham Journal column: Preserving the good in the old, encouraging the good in the new

Courtney Finn

Courtney Finn

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The Civic Society has had a good year with membership increasing to 161 and 187 people signed into our Facebook page.

The society’s motto is ‘Preserve the good in the old; encourage the good in the new’ and its aims are to:

The unveiling of the signboard on St Peter's Hill

The unveiling of the signboard on St Peter's Hill

Ensure the town’s remaining fine or historically interesting buildings are preserved for future generations;

Monitor the upkeep of green spaces and make our contributions, where appropriate, to their provision;

Keep a watching brief on new developments and make constructive comments on their likely impact on the town’s environment;

Encourage sustainable development and refurbishment;

Encourage a vibrant, attractive, economically viable environment in which to work, live and for leisure.

I imagine many readers will support these aims, judging by the local reactions to planning proposals, to traffic and parking issues and overwhelmingly to fundamental changes threatening Grantham Hospital, especially in the light of the plans for 17,000 more dwellings in the foreseeable future. This does not count what might emerge after the closure of Prince William of Gloucester Barracks in 2020.

I think we all want Grantham to grow in a sustainable way for us all to enjoy living here and I am confident that the district council and our elected councillors want this to happen too. We rely on them to get the best plans from landowners and developers that achieve satisfactory returns for the developers’ investment and the best environmental return for the rest of us, plus the many thousands more people who seem destined to make Grantham their home in the future.

Whilst we have no figures for Grantham we have some for South Kesteven, where between 2011 and 2036 it is conservatively forecast that the 57,530 households will increase by 14,031 to 71,530. There were apparently 59,106 jobs in South Kesteven and by 2036 this might increase by 16.2 per cent to 68,700 or an extra 9,594 jobs.

It is difficult to tell where all the new jobs will come from, although the new Designer Outlet Village will be a great boost of up to 1,500 jobs. Grantham town will benefit with connectivity to the town centre planned in, even if only a small proportion of its shoppers decide to come into town. The 17,000 new dwellings still seems too many for the town in relation to the forecast needs of the district, unless we see much more commuting for work outside of the town and district.

In Grantham we rely heavily on local entrepreneurs to bring to market their cherished ideas of what product or service will sell and if we don’t support them the shops and factory units will stay empty. To those who say we have too many coffee bars and cafes you should understand that the district council has no part in telling applicants what might or might not be successful. Others tell me that the more good eating places you have the more people will use them!

The Civic Society has a planning subcommittee which is a forum for considering and commenting upon planning applications. Many of you have strong opinions on how the town should develop and so let me encourage you to join us to promote and lobby for the best plans for the future.

The 2017 subscription is a mere £12pp and £22 for two of you at the same address. The 2017 programme will see visits to Leicester and Louth where we will be hosted by their Civic Societies. We have other visits to Sutton in Ashfield and Bingham where local groups will be our guide. There is something on each month with talks and social events. Our friends at Rivercare do a three-monthly clean up of the River Witham and the park land along its length.

We celebrate National Heritage Day on June 17 with guided town tours. On Heritage Open Days in mid-September you could help us in buildings and places that are not usually open FOC. The 2017 theme is ‘Law and Order’ and we hope to visit the former Spittlegate Court for the first time. I shall be giving a talk about our famous pioneer policewoman Pc Edith Smith.

Our treasurer, Ruth Crook, continues to tell you about Grantham buildings with ‘Then & Now’ photos in the Journal every single week. Secretary Dr John Manterfield has now completed five sessions at Grantham Museum with help from townspeople identifying photos of the town from the Civic Society archive of photos stretching back to the 1960s. We continue to research Grantham’s rich history and have several people and topics which justify a Blue plaque or heritage information signboard to better inform our residents and attract visitors. If you would like to be part of all this then please contact me at chairman@granthamcivicsociety.co.uk or ring me on 01476 572506.

Our 2017 programme starts with a breakfast meeting on January 10. Just come along and see what you think, but you need to get in touch for the venue and details!