What are we planning for the future generations?
I attended this week’s Cabinet meeting to listen to the discussion on the Local Plan, as, with the proposed development at the Great Kyne site there’s been a lot of discussion over recent weeks about the direction of the city, writes City councillor John Whitby, UKIP.
It now looks like this controversial development will come outof the plan, but for how long?
It should make us look at what we want to do going forward and what sort of Peterborough we want to leave as a legacy to our children and grandchildren.
There is no doubt that currently we need housing, we also need jobs as the two go together, and, we have a real shortage of affordable and social housing in the city. We heard that there are companies who wish to locate to Peterborough and the availability of housing for their workforce would be key, and also we have a housing crisis in the city. So, short term, we need housing to be built.
But what do we plan for the city?
One thing should be made clear, and that’s that it’s impossible to continually grow, there’s a finite limit to growth, there has to be, land is not being made! But what is that limit and what do we want it to be?
Do we want a sprawling conurbation spreading almost without break from Norman Cross up to Wittering and across to Thorney and Whittlesey and up to near Stamford?
Already the south west corner of Peterborough will extend unchecked through the Hamptons, with the Great Haddon development and Peterborough Gateway urbanising almost the entire area between the A605 and Norman Cross.
Everywhere you look, urban Peterborough is growing.
And who is driving the growth of Peterborough? It’s not necessarily the council and we’ve seen from the recent furore over Barnet buying homes for their homeless, that a growing Peterborough is not necessarily for the benefit of it’s existing residents.
The rather arrogant attitude of the Government’s Homes and Communities agency shows where the driver is, and their view seems to be homes at any cost to existing local inhabitants.
But what are we building on? Well in most cases now it’s productive farmland and that’s vital and irreplaceable. Even brownfield sites have a knock-on effect as it moves employment out of the city and the residential areas, forcing more travel and commuting, putting even more pressure on the environmental problems we face with extra traffic, more need for schools, hospital beds and the rest of the requirements caused by a growing population.
I believe we need to step back and look at what we want to leave behind us. We should help existing residents and make sure we have a safe, healthy city, and in my opinion that does not equate to poor quality, high density housing and effectively extending the inner city areas.
We need better quality employment opportunities and education, we need to improve the general environment and make the city a pleasant place to live with decent roads and footpaths across the city and not just in the core.
Crucially though, we need to keep the city small, with easy access to open countryside for everyone, and not one where you ned to drive for miles to leave the urban areas behind.