Wilmslow Town Council has supported the work of the Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan Group and accepted the Neighbourhood Plan for submission to Cheshire East Council, who will arrange for an independent inspection to be carried out to ensure it complies with all regulations.
Brian Donohue, Chairman of the Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan Group, presented the completed Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan, which will guide planning development in the town over the next 15 years, for their formal approval on Monday, 17th December.
Mr Donohue said "It is a credit to the group and the dedicated work in translating the valuable input from the public into aspirations and planning policies specific to Wilmslow that we have achieved this important point of the process. Within the coming months CEC will arrange a referendum giving the residents of Wilmslow the opportunity to vote on the plan. We hope at that time it is accepted and subsequently plays a major part in guiding future developments within the town."
The Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan, along with other supporting documents and evidence, will now be submitted to Cheshire East Council for independent inspection to ensure it is in compliance with planning and European regulations and is acceptable as a planning policy document applicable to Wilmslow.
Following inspection, and any alterations if required, CEC will open a six week period of consultation before arranging a local referendum at which the residents of Wilmslow will be asked to vote for or against acceptance of the Neighbourhood Plan.
The Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan has been drawn up by the working group over the last three years. During this time three consultations with the residents and businesses in the town have taken place which have contributed to and influenced the development of the policies and aspirations contained within the plan.
Brian Donohue explained "The first concentrated on engaging with the public by presenting to groups and societies, attending public events such as the market and the Wilmslow Show and by sending a questionnaire to every house in the borough.
"The second consultation was based on the 'Emerging Policies' document drawn up to inform how the plan was developing and again, by means of a questionnaire, to ask whether or not these policies and aspirations derived from input from the first consultation met expectations of the public.
"The Draft Neighbourhood Plan published to comply with Regulation 14 of the process formed the basis of the final six week consultation period. A summary document of the policies was again sent to every household in the area with a questionnaire and direction to the NP website where comment and feedback could be registered. All of these comments were considered and the draft plan altered where relevant."
He added "Obviously it has not been possible to include all views expressed during the consultation process because some were not deemed to be reflective of the majority feedback or they were over-prescriptive or possibly would have led to inconsistencies within the Plan as a whole.
"It may be that as individuals some of your personal views are not fully represented however all comments were given full consideration and we are confident that this final version of the Wilmslow Neighbourhood plan is representative of the majority views and opinions of the population of the Town."
The objectives outlined in the Neighbourhood Plan include: sustaining Wilmslow as a desirable place to live, work and play by providing new homes for all ages which address local needs; promoting Wilmslow as a thriving and diverse business community; promoting Wilmslow as a destination rich in community and leisure facilities and promoting a healthly community which has excellent access to green and open spaces.
Additionally it aims to enhance and protect Wilmslow's designated and non-designated heritage assets; creating new opportunities for biodiversity; maximising the visual quality of the town centre and creating a safe, pedestrian friendly environment and support the improvement of public transport.
Images: Artist's impressions of how the town centre could be developed: improved public realm and pedestrian connections along The Rex frontage; improved parking and pedestrian environment with enhanced link to the library and potential for a transformed Alderley Road and Green Lane junction with residential apartments overlooking the new public space.