SKDC leader: “I’d buy shares in Grantham.”
Positive messages about Grantham’s economic fortunes were given at a gathering of business leaders at Grantham Horse Trials.
South Kesteven District Council leader Matthew Lee said he buys and sells shares now and then, and if he could, he’d recommend people buy shares in Grantham.
Top Lincolnshire County Councillor Colin Davie, its executive member for economy and place, also described Grantham as “one of the prime examples of how Lincolnshire is booming.”
Coun Lee told a business lunch on Friday he always looked for shares in companies with “big upside potential.”
Such firms tend to be “forgotten or unloved”, and he said arguably Grantham has been similarly “overlooked in recent years.”
The town, he continued, has available land, willing landowners, affordable homes and excellent schools.
Last October’s ‘economic summit’ showed SKDC “had the political will to make change happen” and already positive change was happening.
He cited the Grantham Journal reporting a ‘mini-revival’ in Grantham’s high street, with businesses opening or about to open such as The Works, Loungers, Bon Patisserie and the Katana Japanese restaurant.
“Of 306 units across town, just 30 are now vacant. And the arrival of a new cinema in 2019 will be a ‘shot in the arm’ for our retailers and restauranteurs, as well as our visitor and night-time economies.”
Mr Lee said InvestSK, the council’s economic development agency, had made “a great start” and “is now managing a growing ‘wish list’ from land agents and companies who want our support to find the premises or finance or skills they need to stay and grow or move into the area.”
Mr Lee then cited the ‘crane index’- the more cranes on a skyline, the more successful the town or city.
He added: “Well, we’ve got a crane coming to Grantham- for our cinema! We look forward to lots more cranes in the future- and if we can’t have cranes- we’ll make do with lots of scaffolding.”
The gathering also saw county councillor Colin Davie say Greater Lincolnshire is “undoubtedly one of the investment hotspots of the UK” and Grantham “one of the prime examples of how Lincolnshire is booming.”
Coun Davie cited Grantham’s road and rail connections, plus “two urban expansions opening up the way for 4,000 new homes to be delivered in the town, whilst the new £80 million southern relief road will open up new land for industry.”
He continued: “A new town centre multiplex cinema, a designer outlet shopping village and high street regeneration are amongst the projects in the pipeline for this transforming town.”
“Kickstarting this transformation is the development of the Southern Quadrant urban development which will deliver a sustainable new community in a high quality landscape setting, providing much needed new homes and jobs whilst contributing to the wider regeneration of Grantham Town centre.”
Mr Davie said Lincolnshire County Council was helping deliver the southern relief road which would lead to a 25 acre designer retail village, 3,700 new homes and more than 140,000 m2 of employment spoace.
The county council, working with the Greater Lincolnshire Enterprise Partnership, was also working to remove the ‘key growth barrier’ of poor broadband, through its OnLincolnshire division. Access to 4G mobile connectivity was also improving.
Mr Davie said it was recognised the current provision of roads, water, sewerage, energy services and telecommunications may not be enough to accomodate the level of growth required.
He added: “Greater Lincolnshire is therefore committed to taking a stronger role in dialogue with utility providers to make a better case for investment, creating innovative approaches to accessing finance to unlock stalled developments and ensuring a reliable utilities infrastructure to support growth.”