Grantham Journal column: Building more homes can benefit our towns
I have always been in favour of development. We need to build thousands of new houses so that it becomes more affordable for people in their twenties and thirties to buy a home of their own.
We need more sheltered housing and care homes so that people can grow old in security close to their families. We need to build new commercial space so that new businesses can start up in Grantham, Stamford and Bourne and expand without being forced to move to Peterborough or Nottingham. Communities that stand still, that become frozen in aspic, lose their appeal and eventually decline.
But if development is to benefit us all, existing residents and newcomers alike, it must be accompanied by investment in new and improved infrastructure. There must be investment in better roads and footpaths. The people living in Rutland Heights have every right to be concerned about the pressure of traffic on Sidney Farm Lane if thousands of houses are built to the north of Stamford. The families moving into Elsea Park in Bourne must have a safe pedestrian route to West Road and Westfield Primary School. There must be investment in school places. The parents of children growing up in Stamford must be guaranteed a place at a local primary school and there is a limit to how many places can be created at Malcolm Sargent, wonderful school though it is. There must be investment in extra capacity at our GP surgeries. We all need a GP. And, as Grantham grows to the north and south, we must see investment in a full range of services at Grantham Hospital (not to mention the restoration of a 24/7 service at A&E.)
I am currently campaigning to persuade the government to change the law so that councils and development corporations can spend less money on land and more money on infrastructure, when they are planning major new settlements like garden towns and villages. Landowners deserve to get a fair price for land that is destined for development but we need to make sure that the community’s needs for infrastructure do not get pushed to the end of the queue. I want to make sure that the development in Grantham, Stamford and Bourne improves the towns for everyone, and makes them better places for people to work and live.