At tonight’s meeting of Northwich Town Council, Cllr. Andrew Cooper provided an update on the progress of the Neighbourhood Plan.
After what feels like an extremely long time, we are approaching the conclusion of this phase of the Neighbourhood Plan. Following what have been extensive resident’s surveys, school and college surveys, business surveys, focus groups, and many, many meetings, we now have a full draft of the Neighbourhood Plan. This now runs to 78 pages, and is a little more than 17,000 words. This has been reviewed by CW&C’s spatial planning team, who have given us some feedback and valuable advice.
The stage we are currently at is meeting with each Topic Area Group leader individually and incorporating their feedback into the draft.
The next stages are as follows:
1. Following approval from the Topic Area Group Leaders, we will be distributing the draft to all NTC and Northwich CW&C Councillors for their feedback. My intention is to hold a feedback meeting later this month for those Councillor’s that wish to attend to ask questions and provide comments. Hopefully this will allow us to spot any problems or omissions early on.
At this stage we will also be inviting comments from people who have been involved in the process so far, such as members of Topic Area Groups, who have contributed a great deal to getting the plan to this point.
2. The next stage will be to submit the Plan to CW&C’s Spatial Planning Team for Strategic Environmental Assessment screening. This process determines formally whether we will need to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment, and involves the consultation of Natural England and Historic England. Based on what CW&C have seen so far, we are not expecting any problems at this stage, but it’s something we have to do.
3. Following this, we will publish the draft for a six week public consultation. Work is already underway to look at how we can promote participation in this. I’m hoping this will take place in early October, but this will obviously depend on the feedback we receive from the earlier stages.
All of this brings us a significant step closer to the Plan going out to referendum, which I think we can say with some confidence will take place early next year.
Thanks very much for your collective support and patience in getting to this point. Hopefully we are now not too far away from providing the town with an ambitious Plan that will give a positive future direction, whilst protecting the green spaces and historic areas that the community has expressed are of great importance to them.