Cheshire East Council is developing a new strategic plan for the borough, for a number of reasons including:
- The significant number of new elected members following the elections in May and a need to reflect post-election priorities;
- The changing context of which the council is now operating in, with regards to the financial challenge caused by factors such as rising inflation;
- A greater need to focus council resources to meet increased service demands and costs, and;
- Improvement in digital technology and artificial intelligence which the council needs to safely and securely take advantage of to drive efficient service delivery.
The council is inviting its partners, residents and customers to express their views on the priorities and ambitions of Cheshire East for the short, medium and long term, through a series of engagement events and a survey.
The emerging priorities that the plan is seeking to develop are the need to reduce health inequalities and implement the outcomes of the recently updated health and wellbeing strategy, and to continue commitments to achieving net zero for both the council and for Cheshire East. The council will be seeking views to shape the activities and areas to prioritise into the future.
Councillor Sam Corcoran, chair of Cheshire East Council's corporate policy committee, said: "We need to make sure our services are delivered as effectively and efficiently as possible, especially when we have less money available. A new plan will help us to do this as it considers what we want to achieve over the next few years and is backed up by our budget, which will say how we then pay for it.
"Councils have significant challenges over the next few years. There is an urgent need to prioritise and target service delivery to areas that need them the most. The Cheshire East Plan is a way we can ensure we focus on the priorities of our communities and place the care of people at its heart.
"The new plan will support us with the decisions we have as we meet the increasing demands on our services and significant challenges ahead. We want to understand what people want the Cheshire East of the future to look like, and what the ingredients are to making our borough a good place to live, work and visit.
"I would urge everyone to fill out the survey or come and talk to us at an engagement event. If you have never interacted or given your views to the council before – now is the time to do so. We want to know the views of residents to help guide us when we make the difficult decisions that we know lie ahead."
The survey, which is now open until midnight on Friday 15 December 2023, can be found by visiting https://surveys.cheshireeast.gov.uk/s/ShapingOurFuture23/
The council is inviting the public to drop in and participate in interactive activities at the following engagement events
- Crewe Market Hall on 15 November 11:30am – 3:30pm and 16 November 3:30pm – 7pm
- Macclesfield Grosvenor Centre (near Greggs) on 22 November 11:30am – 3:30pm and 23 November 2- 5:30pm
Cheshire East Council also wants your views on proposals to help secure environmental protections and financial contributions from developers.
A developer contributions supplementary planning document (SPD), which sets out how the council will secure funding to provide the range of infrastructure and facilities needed to service new development, has been approved for further public consultation before formal adoption.
The decision by the council's environment and communities committee follows feedback from initial public consultation last autumn, which was used to re-draft the document.
The draft SPD aims to give developers more clarity on how their proposals can meet the policy requirements of Cheshire East's Local Plan via so-called section 106 agreements, which are often financial contributions to be used to secure mitigations from developments – from parks and green spaces to highways and education.
The committee also approved holding a public consultation on the final draft of the council's environmental protection supplementary planning document, which also underwent a first consultation last autumn.
This SPD provides guidance on the council's approach to environmental protection issues when considering planning applications.
The areas covered in the final draft are air quality (including dust pollution), contaminated land, noise, light pollution and odour pollution. It sets out the relevant technical advice to prevent or reduce the impact of proposed developments on public amenity and the health, wellbeing of people across the borough.
Councillor Mick Warren, chair of the environment and communities committee, said: "Supplementary planning documents are a recognised way of providing additional guidance on how planning policies should be used – in this case to support local services provision and protect the borough's environment.
"Although not formally part of our statutory development plan, SPDs should be taken into account when deciding a planning application or when considering an appeal against a planning decision.
"Through section 106 agreements (S106), for example, the council receives a wide range of funds to deliver local facilities and services and we want to ensure everyone is clear about what is required in order to secure planning permission."
Since the adoption of the Local Plan Strategy in 2017, more than £15m has been spent on infrastructure projects through S106 financial contributions related to development.
Cllr Warren added: "By providing up-front, up-to-date and clear advice on our planning policies, our aim is to ensure developers and property owners know what's expected of them when they are making relevant planning applications, as well as supporting the council to determine them."
Comments on the two SPDs can be made from Friday 17 November until the deadline of midnight on 15 December 2023.
To view the documents visit https://cheshireeast-consult.objective.co.uk/kse/folder/29414