Grantham Journal letter: Development needs to be downsized

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Shortly after October 10 decisions will be made about the Southern Quadrant Housing Development, specifically, should 3,700 new homes be built?

Currently, on a daily basis, Grantham grinds to a halt due to the volume of traffic trying to squeeze through its old, narrow streets, not helped by years of idiotic highways planning and management.

Finally, Grantham is to have a southern by-pass, which should, if the figures are correct, relieve the town of 4,200 vehicles that pass through it each day. This road should make Grantham more accessible for residents and visitors. The problem is, the bypass will only benefit the town if the 4,200 transient vehicles removed each day are not replaced by anything else.

The 2011 census shows car ownership in the UK to be 12 vehicles per 10 dwellings, therefore, it is realistic to expect that the occupants of the 3,700 new homes on the Southern Quadrant will bring with them 4,440 cars.

Couple that with similar numbers of homes being built in other areas round the town (3,500 in the North West Quadrant) and the total of expected vehicles is around 8,540, a net increase of 4,340 on pre bypass figures.

SKDC want the new residents to use Grantham for work and leisure - in other words, to make Grantham the destination for these additional vehicles.

Under Part 2, Section 16(1)(a) of the Traffic Management Act of 2004, a local authority has a legal duty to “secure the expeditious movement of traffic on its road network”, and under Section 16(2)(b) of the same Act, it has a duty to ensure the “avoidance, elimination or reduction of road congestion on its road network”.

Given that the construction of the by-pass is the only viable solution considered by the authorities to relieve the congestion at current levels, and that the authorities plan to increase current levels by at least 4,340 vehicles - what plans or infrascturcutre improvements do they have to cater for this additional traffic pressure should the developments go ahead, where for example are the residents supposted topark their cars when they go into town?

Document 41, which accompanies the planning application online (a non-technical traffic assessment summary produced by the current land owner), tells us that once the by-pass is built, and before any Southern Quadrant homes are built, the average journey time across Grantham between the A52/A1 junction at Barrowby, and the A52 roundabout at Somerby Hill will be reduced by between four and 36 seconds (yes, I had to read that twice too, I’m not sure how I’ll spend all the extra time I’ll save), and in 2031, when everyone’s moved in, the average journey time will have increased by 20 per cent on current figures, and in fact, the traffic volume and risk to pedestrians on Somerby Hill will have increased to such an extent, that it’s felt additional pedestrian crossing facilities will need to be installed.

Now, I don’t want to be accused of “Nimbyism”, and indeed, I’m not against development on the Southern Quadrant site, however, simple mathematics affecting traffic impact would indicate that the proposed 3,700 homes figure should be revised downwards - significantly.

I’m sure that SKDC will trot out the usual “green” solutions to the problem, and say that additional bus services will be implemented, and cycling will be encouraged (witness the impressive new length of cycle lane at the bottom of Somerby Hill), and I’ve no doubt everyone will leave their cars at home, on the drive when they just want to “nip into town” - won’t they?

I’m not hopeful that any objections raised to the development, no matter how sensible, will be taken on board by SKDC, and, if they are they will be ignored, ultimately, those charged with making planning decisions will simply skip off into the sunset, hand in hand without a care for the mess that they will leave behind - after all, a quick look around the town shows that’s what usually happens.

My request is simple - by all means develop the site, but do it in a balanced, sustainable way for a change, don’t be blinded by the promise of unsustainable “growth” - think it through!

Name and address supplied