Opinion: ‘We’re making development strides’
Wayne Fitzgerald, city council leader and Conservative group leader on Peterborough City Council writes...
You don’t have to travel far across Peterborough to see that our city is under development... it has been now for many years!
We are a place with aspiration to attract new people, businesses and investment. We have a strong economy, excellent transport links, our land is less expensive when compared to London and we have lots of interest from private investors, as demonstrated by the new Fletton Quays development.
No doubt that’s why we are set to receive £22.9million from the government as part of our Towns Fund bid - the largest government investment in Peterborough since the New Towns funding in the 1960s.
As a rapidly-expanding city, it’s essential we have enough good quality homes for existing residents and those who might choose to move here in the future.
So, I was delighted to learn this week that we have delivered a record 1,247 new homes in the past financial year, up 32 per cent on our Local Plan target.
It’s equally important that we’re providing the right types of homes, in particular affordable ones that allow people to take their first step on the housing ladder. I can tell you that 304 (24 per cent) were affordable; that’s one of the highest figures on record for us. Since 2016, a total of 958 affordable homes have been built across Peterborough.
Last February, Robert Jenrick MP, Secretary Of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, wrote to the council congratulating us on our house-building performance, recognising our work with local communities to help turn the Local Plan into a reality, and the role the council is playing in “making the housing market work for everyone and restoring the dream of home ownership for a new generation”.
We have certainly not let him down this year.
With one of the fastest-growing populations in the country – and our house building figures going through the roof – it’s important we continue to invest in our schools to ensure we have enough places.
Work has begun on a new primary school at Hampton Water, which will be opening next September, St John Henry Newman Roman Catholic Primary School and Nursery.
In keeping with our pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030, we are for the first time using an environmentally-friendly method of construction which will see the school built off-site at construction company EMB’s Lean Manufacturing Facility in Hull. This approach has many benefits including less waste, a reduced site period and less site traffic ensuring reduced disruption for residents.
In addition, a topping out ceremony will be taking place today (Thursday) at Manor Drive Primary and Secondary schools. If you have not heard of one of these before, it signifies that the highest point of the building is now in place.
Again, these schools are scheduled to open next September.
We have a legal duty to provide a school place for every child that needs one, but it is more than that. We want to give every child the best education possible so that they can go on to reach their potential.
Last week we held our third Covid-19 summit, looking at key issues for our city and how to keep our residents safe heading into winter. If you haven’t watched it yet, you can do so on the council’s YouTube channel.
It was a good event and I think everyone who attended will agree that we are all working incredibly hard to keep people safe and, most importantly, to push our vaccine rates as high as possible. However, we agreed that we must redouble our efforts and do more to get people to accept their vaccine.
There was an interesting fact shared at the meeting – two thirds of people who were in intensive care at the city hospital at that time had either not been vaccinated or had only had one dose. This is why we must keep working hard to support as many people as possible to get vaccinated. It may not stop you getting Covid, but you are much less likely to end up in hospital. Thankfully, hospital rates and the number of people dying are much lower than they were in the January peak of the virus.
We continue to offer all the support we can to make it as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated and reassure those who might not be sure. This week we begin a three-week push to offer even more opportunities.
Just to remind you, we offer transport to get people to appointments and childcare support to help people make a vaccination appointment. There are also specific vaccination sessions for pregnant women at their ante-natal appointments and we have health care workers available to answer questions from people who might be hesitant about being vaccinated.
If you have a barrier which is stopping you from getting the vaccine, please tell us, as we might be able to help.
For more information about the many ways to get vaccinated visit www. thevaccinators.co.uk or call 119.
And finally, a reminder that the next Ask the Leader event takes place on Tuesday, September 28 and the deadline to submit questions is next Tuesday (September 21). If you have a question you would like to ask, please email them to me at [email protected] or call 01733 747474.