Voters in Knutsford will be going to the polls on Thursday 14th March to answer the YES/NO question: “Do you want Cheshire East Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Knutsford to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”.
This referendum is the final stage of four years of work led by the Town Council to create a Neighbourhood Plan. The development of the plan has been spearheaded by a group of councillors and volunteer residents with the advice of professional planners.
The plan started life in 2014 when a public meeting was held to discuss creating a Neighbourhood Plan; a group of councillors and residents then took this forward through the council’s Neighbourhood Plan Committee. Working groups were formed to look at specific areas in detail and in total around 100 volunteers were involved in drafting the plan.
An initial consultation took place in 2016 and this was followed by further consultation in 2017 with the publication of our emerging policies. A consultation on the draft plan then took place in May 2018 when the volunteers hand delivered a summary and invitation to review the plan through every door in Knutsford. The aim has always been to inject a community voice into the planning system.
An approved Neighbourhood Plan is a statutory planning document – applications will be expected to comply with its policies and Cheshire East Council must use the plan to make its decisions. The town is set to expand over the next decade with almost 1000 houses being allocated in the CEC Local Plan; whilst the Neighbourhood Plan cannot prevent this growth, it seeks to ensure that the development will be in keeping with and meet the needs of Knutsford.
The Neighbourhood Plan does not promote any additional loss of greenbelt or development on our green spaces.
The referendum is like an election – it’s a YES/NO question and decided by a simple majority. If the majority vote YES, the plan is immediately brought into force. If the majority vote is NO the Town Council and community representatives will have to go back to the drawing board.
The plan contains policies covering all aspects of the town: Design, Education and Community Infrastructure, Employment and Retail, Environment, Health and Wellbeing, Heritage, Housing, Sports, Leisure, the Town Centre and Traffic and Transport.
You can read the full plan online at www.knutsfordtowncouncil.gov.uk/services/neighbourhood-plan or view a copy in print at Knutsford Library. If you have any specific queries on the plan you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.