WARRINGTON urgently needs a new, agreed Local Plan – but not one produced in haste which councillors have not had time to consider properly.
This is why Conservative members of the borough council opposed the most recent proposed submission.
Cllr Kath Buckley, leader of the Conservative group, said: “Warrington really needs a new, agreed, Local Plan as soon as possible. It’s been two years since the most recent proposed submission so I do understand the temptation to push this through council as fast as possible.
“But we believe a real opportunity has been missed to protect the important green spaces of Warrington.”
Cllr Buckley said while the Conservatives welcomed reduction in the amount of Green Belt land required, they were unable to support the plan because of continued unnecessary inclusion of Green Belt land in the proposals.
“This Labour administration has not listened to its residents, especially south of the Ship Canal.”
She said councillors had been given just 10 days to review the new proposed Local Plan for 2021 – 2038. Time was needed to study the plan or the lack of scrutiny would lead to problems for the future.
“Therefore Conservative councillors believed that to vote in favour of this was unsafe and it was not in the best interests of Warrington residents to have this pushed forward in such haste.
“This Local Plan proposes increases in infrastructure to deal with the thousands of new homes but these proposals lack any credible depth. Littered throughout the plan are references to a ‘minimum’ of houses being built in Green Belt. When we challenged this, we did not receive a reply.
“Thousands of houses are being proposed without the back up of doctors’ surgeries, schools, leisure facilities and a bus service that is fit for purpose. Despite the length of the plan there is repeated vagueness with regard to key points on infrastructure. Anybody who lives in the south of Warrington is fully aware of the woeful inadequacies of the north/south transport infrastructure, particularly when seeking to cross the Ship Canal and the Bridgewater Canal.
“For most residents there is the option of the overloaded A49 and then two wholly unsuitable single lane crossing points for the Bridgewater Canal, one of which is a hump back bridge which is well over 100 years old.
Despite that, the Plan talks about transport models but no specific and tangible infrastructure
improvements – 4,200 houses proposed for Appleton which will make it an urban sprawl – the very thing the Green Belt is supposed to prevent.
“The draft Local Plan and the welcome town centre regeneration undertaken to date, in our view, fail to adequately deal with the rapidly changing nature of town centre usage.
“If these town centre usage changes had been properly considered in the Plan, this is likely to have saved significantly more Green Belt and provided affordable housing and starter homes in locations where demand is likely to be highest – . close to public transport hubs. “Linked to this is the under use of the Fiddlers Ferry site which, if properly utilised, would prevent the majority of proposed homes being built in Green Belt.
“Finally, Conservative councillors are opposed to the Six 56 development which is still included in the Plan. There is lack of motorway junction capacity, lack of multi modal transport options and there will be heritage damage and an impact on the environment.”