Alan Baldock, Labour Councillor for Northgate, talks about the new plans for the Kingsmead area after their plans were released last week.
“Picture the scene, it’s the summer of 2004, Robbie Williams is playing on the radio and tucked between Roger Federer beating Andy Roddick at Wimbledon and the Athens Games; Canterbury City Council asked local residents about what they think should be done with the Kingsmead Area.
The call from local residents was for a Kingsmead area which simultaneously had open space, a new cinema and housing. Since 2004 Conservative administrations have heeded that call and most of what was then green open space has been built on and Kingsbrook Park has now become very much part of the local community. Thanks to a popular campaign that captivated an entire city, the Kingsmead Field has now been secured as a popular open space and finally a cinema is now coming.
You will note nothing in Local Politics moves with the speed or grace of those 2004 Olympians. So around fourteen years or so years from the birth of an idea by the then Labour and Liberal Democrat Council Council, things are finally moving.
As the programme develops there is still however much to fight for. Whilst the current plans include almost 400 more student beds in a quickly saturating market I believe we need more social housing and will be fighting to ensure that at the very least we replace the social housing lost with the demolition of Coldharbour flats.
We also need to ensure that the design isn’t for a “drive to location”, where those of us living on the Sturry Road may as well give up or trying to get along the A28 home. With hundreds of new homes planned for Hersden and Sturry feeding onto the Sturry Road grid lock will be inevitable unless the new development encourages people to get the bus, walk or cycle there. We need to link up Northgate along the river into the city.
Why not have a look at the plans yourself and see what you think (Councils Planning Portal reference 17/02092). It might not have been at the forefront of my mind in 2004 but the issue of sustainable development not biased to car use is very much now.