Local Plan ignores infrastructure needed for all the houses being built in Grantham
Column by Courtney Finn, chairman of Grantham Civic Society
The Grantham Civic Society commented in detail in the summer of 2019 when the Local Plan was first published.
We supported the emphasis given to sustainable development, particularly policies SD1, the presumption in favour of sustainable development, and SD2, describing the principles of this.
Since Grantham is to receive over 50 per cent of all new house building in South Kesteven there is clearly a need for its roads and transport infrastructure to be developed to handle the increases.
The southern relief road is welcomed but we are disappointed to find that no other road development is mentioned in the plan. This is despite reassuring words on page 30 of the plan “to look at all the issues that relate to transport in the town and set out arange of local proposals to tackle congestion and improve transport options”.
Apart from the southern bypass this has not been done and indeed seems to have been ignored.
Greater connectivity in the town was promised by the completion of Pennine Way to Great Gonerby and a Section 106 agreement was established to fund the railway bridge from house completions at Poplar Farm. The part of the development covered by the Section 106 agreement has been building for the best part of 10 years.
The 106 agreement was to cover the originally stated £8m cost of the railway bridge and was inflation proofed so that contributions were increased over the years to keep pace with increases in the bridge cost.
The bridge was supposed to be started when 750 houses were completed.
There is mention in another council report – the Infrastructure Delivery Plan on page 31 – that contributions are insufficient because of the Network rail ransom for the rail bridge. We would like to see the council publish an explanation of the progress of the bridge project. How much has been collected and from how many completed dwellings and is this vital transport link ever going to happen? What was the ‘ransom’?
The Local Plan is a huge document backed up by several other long and complex reports.
The Government Inspector’s report is an impenetrable document that may only be understandable by planning experts. I am sure it all mostly makes sense and the council has approved it, being their vision for the future of the district and the town.
However, we are concerned that local infrastructure will not keep pace with the race to build ever more dwellings and more congestion and pollution will be the result.
The plan is almost silent on the future requirements in our nurseries, schools and college education. I can find no mention of Grantham Hospital or of having adequate level of provision in doctors’ surgeries and of dental care.
Of course the local council does not have the responsibility in these matters but we hope that all our councillors will continue to use their voices to influence these important aspects of the local infrastructure.