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We understand your cynicism around development

Taking a community-focused approach to development means we hear what local people are really thinking. That's crucial and it has enabled us to develop plans to meet the wishes of the majority. It also means we hear from people who have less positive feelings about our plans. That's also a good thing, as we don't want to confine ourselves to an echo-chamber.

In Stamford, people have chatted to us in meetings, emailed, completed our survey, posted on social media and commented on articles in the Mercury. There are exceptions, of course, but we have been thrilled by the general reaction to our plans. On the other hand, it has been impossible to ignore a less positive sentiment which can be summarised as “I'll believe it when I see it.”

This sentiment is completely understandable. Not all developers keep their promises, and we are all aware of projects sold on visions that have never been fulfilled. In fact, the Royal Town Planning Institute published research in 2019 that suggested that when it came to large developments, only 2 per cent of people trust developers and only 7 per cent trust local authorities. Understandably this creates a wider sense of mistrust and, at the very least, a cynicism when it comes to new development plans.

Clearly, the best way to win trust is through actions. The challenge is, of course, that the schools, shops, parks, health centre, sports facilities and almshouses we want to bring to Stamford North require planning consent and a great deal of work. As a result, we are faced with a 'Catch 22' where we cannot demonstrate that we will keep our word until we have been trusted to do so.

We want to put on the record that we will do as we promise and wish to be held to account for every element of our application for consent. The GummerLeathes team is made-up of people who have designed and worked on developments of the highest calibre and who have come together to create special and authentic places. Each of us is bound by a set of non-negotiable values - community-focus, responsibility and empathy. We only work with people who share those values.

At Stamford North, we are proud to work with the charities who own the land. It means a lot to our team as it does to many people we have spoken to in the Town that the proceeds from this development will go towards towards their collective charitable endeavours which are centred on Stamford. We believe this demonstrates their absolute commitment to the future wellbeing of the Town and surrounding areas.

This is not the Burghley House Preservation Trust's first development here. Local people will be aware of the Trust's investment in Cecil Square. This enabled 48 houses to be built on the site of the old football club. The architect's plans were followed to a tee, and all s106 commitments were delivered including the creation of 20 affordable housing units at Jubilee Villas. Borderville Sports Centre was built as a direct result of that development.

Stamford North will, of course, be on a different scale, but we are all committed to the pursuit of excellence in community-focus, design, health and safety, and delivery.

In the meantime, we will continue to be available for meetings and calls. We will always respond to your feedback – not least when we disagree. And we will continue to give honest answers, even when it is easier to avoid them.

'Development' and 'trust' have not always gone hand-in-hand. At Stamford North, we want to show that they can be synonymous.