Ambition must match achievement

Peterborough is a city of growth. With continued innovation and the development of truly sustainable ideas it will be the settlement of choice for business and workers of the future, says Werrington First Independent councillor Steve Lane.

Sunday, 5th August 2018, 1:00 pm
Updated Friday, 31st August 2018, 5:14 pm
Speaker's Corner columnists -  Peterborough Telegraph -, @peterboroughtel on Twitter,
Speaker's Corner columnists - Peterborough Telegraph -, @peterboroughtel on Twitter,

With it being perfectly placed for physical connections by road and rail, surely there will be nowhere in the Eastern Region that could compete? The A1M, A47 and A14 allows commerce and people to commute and deliver to national and international destinations. Direct connections from the city will deliver to airports, sea ferries and the tunnel, and with government investment for the dualling of major stretches of the A47, together with the recently announced approval for a dive-under at Werrington Junction, productivity and business growth will flourish.

Evidence of Peterborough’s potential has also been recognised by technology providers delivering a new pure fibre network to create gigabit speed digital connectivity that will attract major industry players because of it being just about the world’s fastest internet speed. I hope that will support the Roxhill Gateway site as a strong contender as the location of one of the construction hubs for the expansion of Heathrow, because that would bring hundreds of jobs and millions of pounds of investment to Peterborough.

Yes, it seems that all is well on the business front, and with all this success we might let the city’s leaders and business partners take a pat on the back. I would allow some to receive their plaudits, as far as they are deserved, but just cannot see the fullest commendation without sight of how the future workforce will be housed, because thousands of workers will need thousands of houses, yet Peterborough still seems to be behind with its building of homes for the future.

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I am sure there will be a department in the council and the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority contending that work is in progress to meet the demand. I sincerely hope so, because without a suitable housing stock of all tenures, the prospect for Peterborough to be a destination of choice would flounder if it is unable to provide for its workforce. Some could manage their work and family lives by commuting from outside the area, and others will strive to purchase from a relatively short supply of new-builds. Many more, including our own Peterborians, would hope to join a social housing scheme, but even that has been historically insufficient and unable to meet the current demand on the waiting list.

Ambition and achievement cannot be taken for granted. It’s all very well to shout about a city’s prospects, but that will be creditable only when people’s wellbeing runs in tandem with that prosperity. Housing is the essential foundation for everyone, and plays a key role in helping people to live as well as they are able to. It is so vital for a happy workforce and we need a good supply of housing on a scale that has not been seen before.

The expected population growth demands a surge of new homes built every year for at least the foreseeable future, and I just hope they can build it.