A rough outline of proposals for a new housing estate next to Hallgate, Holbeach were recently presented to the Parish Council and in a public meeting.
The drawings we saw, whilst appearing to be attractive, were not detailed and final versions will no doubt include changes.
There is naturally some controversy about the proposals. Since the estate will eventually consist of at least 900 dwellings, this is a big issue for the whole town and villages, not just for Hallgate residents.
There are existing problems with foul water disposal and surface water run off in this area. Given sufficient investment and engineering skill these can no doubt be resolved.
The generation of extra rates revenue is likely to be irresistible to all local authorities involved and there is no doubt that extra housing is needed nationally – the new residents could also benefit the town.
On balance, in my opinion, the plan is likely to go ahead. It is therefore necessary to ensure it is controlled and overseen properly and wisely by the appropriate authorities. This means there must be full disclosure of long term plans for the area, regular and detailed consultation whilst planning and design and building work proceeds and above all recognition of the problems that will come with the development.
In short I’m referring to traffic and local services.
We will need a lot of new school places, a new doctor’s surgery, an extra dentist, more in-town parking, including space for those who now leave their cars at the roadside in or near Hallgate.
Provided extra facilities are built or existing ones expanded, at an early stage in the development, qualified professionals must be attracted to the area to staff them. That’s not easy to do. We already suffer from shortages in these areas.
Traffic will be a big problem. The two main outlets from the estate so far proposed are not likely to be able to cope and don’t seem to me to be in the right place. This needs re-thinking and a third main access provided.
Given existing nearby new development, there could easily be up to 1,500 cars seeking to exit the area, through narrow bottlenecks, within 45 minute time frames. Twice daily. Plus school runs. Anyone who tries to pick up and collect kids from school, even now, will be aware of the problems doing so.
It seems to me that the developers need to address these problems now, up front, present firm plans as to how they can assist to overcome them and that such plans, if accepted by the community, must be a condition of any planning permission granted.
As a final comment, it’s usual for funds to be made available by developers to improve local communities. Such funds must be spent in or around Holbeach, not in Spalding, nor on projects that should otherwise be funded by district or county councils, like traffic lights.
I believe Holbeach Parish Council will do its best to monitor the progress of this scheme but the public have to help too. Talk to your ward councillors, let them know what you think and since we don’t have the final say in what happens, write to the district council and councillors too. It will be very hard to change things once the off whistle is blown.
Holbeach parish councillor