An independent examination of the draft Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan is currently underway to ensure it is in compliant with planning and European regulations and is acceptable as a planning policy document applicable to Wilmslow.
Examiner Wendy Burden has confirmed that she is satisfied with the copy of the draft plan and accompanying documentation, which will enable her to undertake the examination.
She wrote "Subject to my detailed assessment of the Plan, I have not at this initial stage identified any very significant and obvious flaws in it that might lead me to advise that the examination should not proceed."
Ms Burden will be carrying out an unaccompanied site visit to the neighbourhood plan area to assist her assessment of the draft plan, including the issues identified in the representations.
She added "At this stage, I consider the examination can be conducted solely by the written representations procedure, without the need for a hearing. However, I will reserve the option to convene a hearing should a matter or matters come to light where I consider that a hearing is necessary to ensure the adequate examination of an issue, or to ensure that a person has a fair chance to put a case."
The intention is to conduct the examination, including the site visit, with a view to providing a draft report (for 'fact checking') within 4 to 6 weeks of submission of the plan. However, if the examiner has to request additional information then the examination timetable would be extended.
Following inspection, and any alterations if required, Cheshire East Council 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.
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.