Cheshire West and Chester Council is asking residents and businesses whether the Local Plan needs to be updated to reflect changing national and local priorities.
The Local Plan sets out how the area should be developed in the future, including how many new homes are needed and where they should be built. It is the basis for deciding planning applications and provides the framework for the preparation of neighbourhood plans. The Council is required to keep the Plan under regular review and change the content where necessary.
The Local Plan (Part One) was adopted in January 2015 covering Strategic Policies, Part Two, Land Allocations and Detailed Policies followed in 2019. These plans run until 2030 and set where new building can take place but also those areas such as Green Belt where building is more restricted.
Councillor Matt Bryan, Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning and Climate Emergency said: “You might have concerns about the area you live or work in, is there a lack of affordable housing or should more be done to respond to the climate emergency.
“Walking and cycling more and providing access to green spaces is something we might want to explore.
“We have all experienced the devastating effects of the pandemic but how should this change how we plan in the future? This is your chance to join the conversation and tell us what you want to see happen next.”
The consultation is divided into six themes for planning Cheshire West in the future: Climate; Jobs; Homes; Health; Travel; and Environment.
Climate change challenges how we live, and we need to act. The government and international bodies take the lead on this, but a big difference can be made locally. The ambition is for Cheshire West and Chester to become carbon neutral by 2045 or earlier.
The Local Plan influences the location of new homes and businesses, how buildings are constructed and supports green infrastructure and adaptation measures.
Supporting businesses and ensuring job opportunities are essential to the Local Plan. A thriving local economy drives prosperity and creates jobs. Covid has changed working patterns, some shops have closed and the way town centre are used is changing.
Changes to planning legislation make it easier to switch the use of buildings from shops and offices to residential uses, in town centres and business parks. The way we shop, and work might have changed but this may bring opportunities to change our town centres and offices for other uses.
How the Council plans for the Climate Emergency is offering opportunities to build on existing skills and develop a new green economy and jobs in Cheshire West. If working from home is here to stay, this will reduce commuting but may change the types of homes that people need.
The population of Cheshire West is changing and growing, and more people will be living longer. Housing affordability is an issue for many people, especially young people and those on lower incomes. The Local Plan needs to plan for what types of housing will be needed and where they should be built.
Well-designed places and being part of a community with easy access to facilities are all factors for improving the quality of life. Access to open spaces plus low levels of pollution and noise are also important. The consultation asks about the most important factors to focus on, and how the Local Plan can meet the key challenges.
Providing reliable and efficient transport networks is fundamental to supporting economic growth, improving access to jobs and key services, enhancing the local environment and improving the quality of life. Future decisions on travel, reducing trips and supporting more sustainable transport are all important for tackling the climate emergency.
Green spaces are highly valued and sensitive to the impacts of development. Tree planting makes places more attractive and helps to reduce the rate of climate change by absorbing CO2. Protecting landscapes and townscapes that make Cheshire West special and creating well-designed buildings that can adapt to future climate change is important.
Added Councillor Bryan: “Last year the government consulted on proposals that Local Plans should focus on identifying land under three categories: Growth areas suitable for substantial development, Renewal areas suitable for some development and Protected areas where development is more restricted.
“We would like to get your initial ideas for which areas of land could be identified for Growth, Renewal or Protection. The Local Plan really is a key document, I want to make sure is correct and reflects the needs of residents.”
The consultation starts this week and closes at 5pm on Wednesday15 September. To join the conversation visit: www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/localplanconversation