‘We want to get Poplar Farm right’

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DISTRICT councillors have deferred a decision on whether or not to approve the building of 105 houses off Barrowby Road, Grantham, stating that they ‘want to get it right’.

The initial planning application, which was before South Kesteven District Council Development Control Committee on Tuesday, was the first phase of the massive Poplar Farm development.

Councillor Judy Stevens said: “This is the first part of an application for 1,800 homes. We are talking about a huge development here and I think it’s important that we get it right, right from the beginning.

“I’m really disappointed that given this is the first application as part of a larger development that a lot of the words we are being told is about ‘we would hope this would happen’. We would much rather know if it is definitely going to be the case or not.”

The plan, which included the building of 105 houses and associated infrastructure, was recommended by council planning officers for approval.

But councillors were concerned that the level of affordable housing at the site, 15 in total, was below the percentage that was outlined for the final development.

Planning officer Kevin Cartwright said: “In the initial phase the developer is going to struggle to provide affordable houses because they will be the first on site.”

He said often the initial phase was to make money, which can then be used later in the development. He said more affordable housing could be put in later phases of the development, so that by the time there were 300 houses, 54 of them would be affordable.

But Councillor Michael King said: “What happens if the developer comes back at the next stage and says it’s not incredibly viable to provide that many affordable units?”

Concern was also raised about the lack of green screening that would be in front of the new homes to lessen the impact on residents of Balmoral Drive, who will be losing their views of the fields after the development. Lack of public transport plans, parking, renewable energy, and wildlife issues were also raised.

Councillor Rosemary Kaberry-Brown said: “In some ways I look forward to this development but I agree that we have to get it right. I think it has been said that we can’t afford to assume anything. We are having to give permission for one of the largest developments in Grantham. We can’t be left with this on our shoulders if we get something wrong.”

The decision was deferred by 11 votes to two until more information is given to the committee.