The Baldock Development Plan, which the majority of you have heard of, was formed two years ago, in 2021. Since then, it has evoked many different opinions and feelings from groups of different people, writes J McLeod
The Baldock Development Plan is a plan to extend our small town by using the great areas of green space in Baldock to create new resources for old and new residents. Consisting of a whopping 3,300 new homes, three new schools and much more, with a cost of £500 million, this is definitely something to talk about!
NewsKnight recently caught up with geography teacher Miss Staines, to talk about about her opinions on the plan. As she is well-informed on human geography, we decided it would be an interesting idea to hear her own thoughts in an interview.
NK: What were your first thoughts when finding out about the Baldock Development Plan?
Miss Staines: It was good to see that there were lots of green spaces involved, but it is just a draft plan and a vague idea of what it could look like. And I’m not entirely convinced that they will put in as much green space like a nature reserve and things like that. It would be nice if they did, but I’m not convinced that they’re going to.
There will be 3,300 new homes, two new primary schools and one secondary school
NK: Do you have any concerns with the new plan?
Miss Staines: I don't know the plan in huge detail, but I think the biggest concern is not necessarily about what they’re going to build, but the order that they build it in; whether they’re going to build a lot of houses first and then put it things like doctors' surgeries, schools and things like that. From seeing other sorts of housing estates in other towns, they tend to put all the houses up, and then forget to put in stuff that people need.
NK: Do you want me to quickly let you know, just give you a recap of it all?
Miss Staines: Yes please
NK: So there are going to be 3,300 new homes, two new primary schools, one secondary school, 600,000sq ft of employment space, 214 acres of open space. This will all cost half a billion pounds.
Miss Staines: Wow!
NK: And it’s going to be carried out over 20 years.
Miss Staines: So yes, nothing sort of different from what they said when they started consulting about it.
NK: Yes, apparently there’s going to be a meeting with Green Knights with the people from Urban Civic.
Miss Staines: Urban Civic have asked to speak to people - I don’t know if it’s going to be GreenKnights or like a year group or something. But I haven’t heard back from them yet, so … who knows when that might be.
NK: Do you believe Baldock will be able to develop the infrastructure needed to provide for the plan with the space it has?
Miss Staines: No, personally, mainly because I think a lot of the services like the High Street and the supermarket are all in the town centre which is already quite crowded and gets a lot of traffic problems.
I think it’s going to be difficult for them to put the roads in that are going to be wide enough and fast enough, so you don’t get loads more traffic building up in the mornings and evenings; so I’m not convinced by it, no.
NK: What are things you’re looking forward to about the new development plan?
Miss Staines: I’m excited to see what they are going to do with the new schools, particularly the secondary school, whether it could be an extension of Knights Templar or it might be a whole new school.
But there'll be lots of opportunities for people, kind of your age (14), who will be the ones that’ll be old enough to buy the houses whilst they’re building them.
It’s obviously an opportunity for people in the local area to have a say as well, which is something that you don’t get to do very often so it’s really important that people put a vote in, or put their comments in on the local plan when they can.
NK: In conclusion, after thinking about it for a while, what is your current opinion as a geography teacher on the Baldock Development Plan?
Miss Staines: I think it’s very exciting that it’s happening on our front doorstep, these things don’t happen very often you know, it’s basically you know building a whole new Baldock.
So it’s really interesting to see how it’s happening, and from a teacher's point of view that’s great, it’s obviously going to have a really big impact on Baldock.
And we might not see that impact for quite a while, and I think they need to learn some lessons about how it’s been done in other places like Biggleswade, the King’s Reach Estate; that’s had loads of houses built but the roads aren’t big enough and they aren’t finished. None of the kinds of services, like the doctors and things that were promised, never came around. So there’s a lot of lessons that they need to learn from other places.
Photos: Miss Staines; growingbaldock.co.uk