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Peterborough needs to plan for 25 per cent growth


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Peterborough could grow by between 25 and 30 per cent over the next few years a rate of growth not seen since before the Peterborough Development Corporation was wound up in 1988.

The whole of the community individuals as well as public, private and voluntary organisations needs to be involved in planning for this growth, civic and business leaders were told at a meeting organised by Greater Peterborough Investment Agency.

Peterborough Cathedral


Graeme Law, head of planning services at Peterborough City Council, told an audience of more than 150 people that the council cannot manage the growth of the city on its own. It needs to work in partnership with others to ensure that the city grows in "the right way".

He said: "We are not aiming for growth at any price. The growth needs to be sustainable. It needs to deliver a good environment and a well rounded community.

"We need to create a balance between the needs of the environment, the needs of the community and importantly the needs of the economy.

"The community as a whole needs to have a major involvement in developing a shared vision of the future."

Mr Law said Peterborough must acknowledge and tackle some obstacles to growth problems such as relatively low educational levels in the city, a lower standard of health than many other parts of the country and some areas of economic deprivation.

Yet Peterborough also has tremendous strengths which will allow the city to gain real benefits from future growth. Among these, he said, is the city's previous experience of rapid growth, its existing infrastructure and the fact that it is not "prejudiced against growth". He contrasted this with some other areas of the country where there was "instinctive opposition to almost any type of development."

Another key strength, Mr Law said, is the attitude of the private sector.

"The fact that the private sector has been lobbying in favour of growth has helped to put us on the government's radar."

As a result the government has recently announced that its 'growth corridor' which runs from London to Cambridge has now been extended to Peterborough.

Mr Law said that the city council's planning service is being restructured to help support the future growth of the city with teams focused on "implementation getting things built rather than on simply regulating development."

He said: "We have a team in place to provide support from the time a project is conceived to the time when the ribbon is cut for the official opening."

He acknowledged that council planners are sometimes not as responsive to the requirements of business as businesses would like. He urged companies to use Greater Peterborough Investment Agency to help them put their case to planners.

"We are sometimes simply not understanding each other's language," he said. "GPIA is a great 'interpreter', assisting us to understand the needs of businesses and helping businesses to understand wider environmental and community issues."

July 2004

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