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
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
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