People Must Have Their Say on The Local Plan
The Liberal Democrats voted in favour of giving residents a say on the latest version of the Local Plan at Warrington's Council Meeting on Monday. The Plan will now go out for six weeks consultation.
Speaking after the meeting, Liberal Democrat Planning Spokesperson Cllr Ryan Bate said: Warrington must have a sustainable Local Plan and not one that is damaging to the Borough. Delaying it makes no sense at all. Two years ago, thanks to significant efforts by councillors, campaigners and the South Warrington Parishes' Group, many changes were made as a result of the consultation process. We are confident that changes for the better can be made again. People have a democratic right to have their say and we will be working hard to help them. The Labour Administration must listen to their views.
If the Plan is delayed for too long, there is a risk that the Government will take control away from the Council and developers would have a free for all. This would be a disaster. However, I want to make it absolutely clear that if acceptable changes are not made to the Plan, we will vote against it when it comes back to Council for approval.
Our Council Group Leader, Cllr Bob Barr, said at the meeting: Delivering the right Plan can be summarised as having the right homes in the right places with the right jobs and the right infrastructure. We need sustainable development where most residents can walk or cycle to shop, be schooled, receive care, take exercise and socialise in twenty minutes or less. The beauty of Warrington's best green spaces must be respected, biodiversity enhanced and buildings designed to minimise energy use. What is unacceptable is large car-dependent housing estates that serve only as dormitories but are quick and profitable for developers to deliver.
We acknowledge many of the changes, but we need a greater emphasis on regenerating the town centre, more genuinely affordable housing, the maximum use of brownfield sites and the timely delivery of physical and social infrastructure. The South East Extension makes no sense socially, economically or environmentally. The proposed road-based logistics facility in the south east is not sustainable. We need high quality jobs that promote Warrington as an area of scientific expertise.
- Cllr Judith Wheeler expressed concern about more congestion in Stockton Heath compounded by the constraints of canal and river crossings.
- Cllr Peter Walker was worried about the effect on air quality of increased traffic - particulate air pollution is already close to World Health Organisation maximum recommendations.
- Cllr Ian Marks thought some of the proposals would damage our heritage and the identity of settlements; he was unhappy that 300 houses are now proposed to be built in Thelwall Heys but were not in the previous Plan.
- Cllr Graham Gowland complained that having an exhibition, with officers present, only at the Halliwell Jones Stadium was not enough; the Council should be reaching out to residents by visiting the communities most affected by the plan.