Date set for referendum on Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan

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Wilmslow residents will be given the opportunity next month to have their say on the future development of the town.

Following a review by an independent planning inspector, a referendum will be held on Thursday, 10th October when residents will be asked whether Cheshire East Council should officially adopt the Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan.

The Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan has been drawn up by an independent group of Wilmslow residents on behalf of the Parish Council over the last three years. Extensive consultations with residents of the town and organisations have influenced the policy and development content of the plan. If approved it will become a planning policy document which is considered when determining planning applications in the town, alongside the Cheshire East Local Plan and national planning policies.

The plan comprises planning policies and aspirations on the development of the town, particularly on providing better areas of public realm. The strategic policies cover sustainable construction, sustainable spaces and sustainable transport. There are also policies on the natural and built environment, infrastructure, housing and employment and on the town centre core.

Additionally, the plan identifies key sites which could be developed and specifies how and under what circumstances these developments would be supported.

Brian Donohue, Chairman of the Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan Group said "On behalf of the Wilmslow Plan Group and the residents and organisations who contributed over the last three years to the content and preparation of the Neighbourhood Plan I hope that the that the plan is accepted it becomes a working policy document that must be considered in determining local planning applications and proposals."

The residents of Wilmslow have the opportunity to vote on the Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan in the referendum on Thursday, 10th October at their local poling station. Voting cards have been distributed by Cheshire East Council.

The draft plan can be viewed on the Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan website.

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Wilmslow Neighbourhood Plan
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Martin Burlin
Wednesday 25th September 2019 at 3:56 pm
A referendum! Oh please! Will the Council comply with the result of the election or just treat it as advisory & ignore it. What a waste of money, which the Council claims it is short of.
In the words of Bart Simpson, “Eat my shorts!”
Bob Bracegirdle
Wednesday 25th September 2019 at 4:27 pm
As a visitor from macclesfield I can I have a say? No you will answer but I may have useful views.
Barry Buxton
Wednesday 25th September 2019 at 4:32 pm
Rather than having to plough through 158 pages is there a cogent summary somewhere?
Keith Chapman
Wednesday 25th September 2019 at 4:42 pm
Martin, this is definitely not money wasted. The Neighbourhood Plan has been prepared by residents for residents and represents many hours of voluntary work. It sets out sound principles on protection of green spaces, the surrounding environment, housing standards and town centre planning. If the plan had been in place when the Cheshire East Plan had been prepared better decisions would have been made. I would urge all residents to vote for its acceptance. The Neighbourhood Plan was sponsored by Wilmslow Town Council which funded the work, not Cheshire East.
David Jefferay
Wednesday 25th September 2019 at 10:33 pm
Barry, judging by your comments on here over the years, I believe you care deeply for the town so I would say this is a very important document which I would say is worth investing your time reading. The 158 pages is a cogent summary of the work that has been done on this plan. However, if you genuinely can't spare the time, just read the policies in the boxes.
Pippa Jones
Thursday 26th September 2019 at 9:51 am
Transition Wilmslow has produced a summary of the Neighbourhood Plan which may be helpful. It is available on our website: https://transitionwilmslow.co.uk/2019/09/26/why-vote-on-wilmslows-neighbourhood-plan/

We strongly support the NP. A great deal of effort has been put into the plan by a dedicated team of volunteers, with feedback from local residents. If accepted, it will have major implications for planning decisions for the town. Please vote!
Ludo McGurk
Thursday 26th September 2019 at 10:12 am
This is a massive set of documents covering a huge number of proposals for a very large and diverse area. It's very size is likely to deflect most who are real local residents, many of whom may say "our views won't make any difference so why bother" and I have seen so much of this in my 50 years living in Wilmslow.
Key issues to me are that if the town centre is to survive, it must be attractively re-modelled, and without the whimsical pedestrianisation dreams of many who never go there. Grove street was ruined by this. Local businesses have been devastated by bad decisions and lack of proper parking, so making it much easier to go out-of-town, or to another town.
Wilmslow has a vibrant and highly prosperous residency who have the ability to circulate high revenue levels in our town, thus creating prosperity, but if it's not made easy to shop/eat/drink in Wilmslow, they'll go elsewhere. Never mind the politics of envy.
Greater thought should be given to how these schemes are to be maintained. Cycle tracks that have been put in over the years that aren't fit to cycle on. So called "traffic calming measures" such as at the station bridge in Wilmslow, which created a problem where none existed before. Wilmslow and Handforth stations' parking sold off to developers so preventing commuters from taking the train to Manchester etc , thus increasing the carbon levels so much needing to be reduced.
Will anything useful, or practical, or to the real wishes to Wilmslow's people come out of it all, or will it be "committee custard" and full of p.c.????????????????
Jonathan Follows
Thursday 26th September 2019 at 12:55 pm
I'm sorry, but 158 pages just can not be a "summary", I sympathise with Barry Buxton because the document is far, far too long and it's impossible to distil what it's trying to do as it stands. I find I have to go and read House of Commons briefing papers to make sense of the background and legal position, but I still ask myself what difference approving or rejecting this makes.

Given that some 700 of these things have gone to local referendum, only three of which were then rejected, makes me think that it's probably mainly activists and people involved in the process who vote for them, therefore mainly in favour. Interestingly, although Knutsford's plan was approved (1744 votes to 349) earlier this year, Middlewich's was rejected, at the instigation of the Labour Party, by 1085 votes to 1063. Knutsford had just under 20% turnout. Middlewich under 19% turnout.

I think my position is that it sounds like a good idea to have local people involved in local planning, but in reality how much effect will its existence have on local issues, especially planning, in future? I can't currently answer that question to my own satisfaction, and until I can I won't be casting a vote.
Pippa Jones
Thursday 26th September 2019 at 3:07 pm
Mark Goldsmith
Saturday 28th September 2019 at 9:08 am
Another key benefit of having an approved Neighbourhood Plan is that Wilmslow Town Council will get a bigger share of the governments new Community Infrastructure Levy.

This is a new charge that builders pay on new developments and is calculated on building size. Most of this money will go to Cheshire East to spend anywhere in the borough on infrastructure.

However, an approved Neighbourhood Plan means Wilmslow will keep more of the CIL money it generates.

This guarantees it gets spent on local improvements and given
the scale of development, it could be a sizeable amount of money for our community.

Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow
Jonathan Follows
Monday 30th September 2019 at 3:03 pm
Thank you, Councillor Goldsmith, your information on the CIL money is the most positive information I've seen to date as a reason for voting in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan.

But I didn't see any mention of this in the plan put before us to vote on, although I'm happy to be corrected if it was and I missed it.

It's simply not good enough to plonk the plan in front of the voters and say "there it is, go and vote on it" which is what I feel has happened. Especially when the document is about twice the length of the Conservative Party 2017 general election manifesto, which is something nobody really expects most voters to read. If someone wants our votes then the plan needs to be sold to us, this is politics. Without it will get a 20% turnout and, probably, more than 50% of the people who do vote casting their vote in favour. So it will pass, like all the other similar ones in the UK. But I don't feel very happy with the lack of a sales effort to persuade us to vote.
Fred Rayers
Monday 30th September 2019 at 9:42 pm
The Neighbourhood Plan document, if approved by the electorate becomes the formal planning document used by developers and planners as part of the planning process. Various sections will apply to certain development and not others, so even in assessing a particular development it should not be necessary to read the whole thing literally end to end.

But it is the full document that has to be voted on, not a summary of it - which would always be an imperfect description of the real thing.

Unfortunately it does mean its not exactly a light read.
John Fallows
Wednesday 2nd October 2019 at 4:40 pm
Yes it was a long read (but not that long). I imagine most Wilmslow Residents have the skills to scan the document and identify points of interest?

Having read it I can appreciate how much it covers, how much work has gone into it and, rather than criticise it, say a BIG thank you to all the local residents who have clearly put hours of work and much thought and analysis into the document. In contrast to a previous comment It didn't seem in the least political.

But for those of you who can't find an hour to read it IMO it addresses the things that I believe residents care about such as:

1. Parking
2. Improvements to the town centre environment and traffic/pedestrian flow
3. Improved cycling and walking routes and public transport connection
4. Preservation of green spaces
5 Guidelines for improved development of buildings, shopfronts etc
Pete Taylor
Thursday 3rd October 2019 at 7:44 am
Well said John Fallows, I agree with every word.

Thanks to all those who contributed to the Neighbourhood Plan, massive effort, well done.

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