WHILE Parish Councils in the south of the borough have welcomed many of the changes in the new version of the Local Plan for Warrington they believe more changes are still needed.
The Parishes of Appleton, Grappenhall & Thelwall, Hatton, Lymm, Stretton and Walton came together a few years ago to support their residents in opposition to the previous 2019 version of the Plan and to fight the premature planning application by Eddie Stobarts for a large distribution centre. They have worked closely with the ‘Rethinking South Warrington’s Future’ group and are supported by a planning consultant and a barrister.
Cllr Cliff Taylor, Chairman of the Parishes’ Planning Working Group says, “Although each Parish will have its own specific views, there are a number of fundamental issues we all have in common. Our task is again to help residents understand these and give some guidance on how to comment in a way that will carry most weight.
“We welcomed the decision by the Council last October to pause the preparation of the previous Plan. The Group objected because it required the release of large areas of Green Belt and it was clearly unsound and undeliverable. It risked rejection by a Planning Inspector. Last October we produced a report and a video and held two Zoom webinars for the public and councillors to explain our objections and to suggest a way forward.
“Many of our ideas have now been taken on board by the Council. We warned that the massive changes due to the pandemic would affect we way we live, work and travel. We wanted the use of the Green Belt to be reduced, more to be made of brownfield sites like Fiddlers Ferry, a reduction in the housing numbers target, a greater emphasis on regenerating the town centre, recognition of the increased concern about climate change and more action on reducing inequalities. In its new version of the Local Plan, the Council has taken a step in the right direction but it hasn’t gone far enough. While we welcome many of the changes, more needs to be done to minimise Green Belt release, to ensure that social and physical infrastructure is in place before – not after – any development and to maximise regeneration in the town centre.
Warrington Borough Council’s public consultation starts on 4 October and goes on for six weeks. We plan to distribute a leaflet to every house in our parishes with our views and giving guidance on how to comment. We will be active on social media and organise displays and drop-in sessions in some areas. It is vital that we encourage as many people as possible to take part in the consultation because it will have major consequences for the town and its villages.”