In The Journal Letters, Friday September 30, S. Footit raises concerns about the proposed development of the Southern Quadrant.
At our last full council meeting, when the proposal was discussed and voted upon, I put forward a motion to defer any decision until more information was available.
We received a high number of objections from Stamford residents. For Grantham there are other concerns.
Whilst the Labour Group recognise the need for more housing, the needs of low income householders need to be met. The Conservative group have decided not to require developers to provide the maximum number of affordable homes in the new developments.
Another issue is the potential impact on traffic in the local area. In the Southern Quadrant, if there is a build up of traffic on Bridge End Road then it is likely new residents will look out for alterative routes affecting local residents and businesses.
The strategy also has contradictions. There was significant emphasis on conservation, yet development in Grantham could start before an excersise to identify local sites/buildings and street scenes of interest, (being progressed by SKDC officers), is finished. I have requested the development sites are prioritised to minimise loss of our towns assets.
At the full council, the Labour Group (and some Independent Councillors) supported my motion, but we were defeated by a block vote from the Conservatives. They argued that development of the South Quadrant will not take place until we have the by-pass and then everything will be ok.
I am not convinced. Firstly, whilst the council is putting some money up front to pay for the by-pass, it is requiring developers to subsequently contribute to the cost of the new road. This is a high risk strategy in the current economic climate. It gets worse when you consider the Localism Bill comes into play next year.
Under current proposals, it will be possible for developers to plead they cannot make an acceptable profit if they make such contributions and could, thanks to Rt Hon Eric Pickles, be let off the hook. Who pays for the road then? Will we still get the by-pass if this happens?
Secondly, the building of the by-pass is no guarantee our traffic problems will end. It is great news that HGVs will no longer be permitted to trundle through the town centre - provided this is enforced. However, much also depends on the needs of people moving into the new areas. How many will need to go via the town and not use the by-pass? There are many unknown factors at this time.
Finally but most importantly, despite some public consultation having taken place I am deeply concerned at the feedback I am receiving from residents and business people who have very little awareness of the development proposals.
With such a lack of public awareness, how can we be sure the developments deliver what the people of Grantham want?
It is important local people take a look at the plans during the public consultation - which ends mid-October - if they want a say in what the development should include.
Details are available online and printed on request through the council offices for those without computer access.
Cllr Charmaine Morgan (Labour)
St Anne’s Ward