Planning experts at the Royal
Town Planning Institute have commended Knutsford’s Neighbourhood Plan in their
annual Planning Excellence Awards. The Knutsford Neighbourhood Plan received a
commendation in the Spatial Planning category for the North West region, with
judges praising the level of volunteer involvement from the community in
developing the plan with the town council.
Bev Watson, Regional Co-Ordinator
of the North West Royal Town Planning Institute said “Judges were impressed
with the wide range of planning policies within the plan and the clear diagrams
which hep to create a more user-friendly document. It is a good example of a
community led plan, which has provided opportunities for engagement and which
has helped to raise the awareness and understanding of planning issues across
The Neighbourhood Plan, which was
developed by Knutsford Town Council working with representatives of the wider
community, was approved at a referendum in March and sits alongside the Local
Plan for use by Cheshire East planners making decisions about development in
Supported by Urban Imprint, the
Macclesfield based planning consultants who helped create the plan,
Neighbourhood Plan Committee Chairman Cllr Stewart Gardiner and Mr Brian
Chaplin, who led the Housing and Employment working group, were interrogated by
RTPI judges on the content and development of the plan.
Cllr Gardiner said “’As a member
of the Royal Town Planning Institute I am extremely proud to have been the lead
councillor in the team that delivered the Knutsford Neighbourhood Plan and to
have been judged by my peers to secure this commendation.
However, this award is not about me, but an affirmation of all the hours of hard work and effort put into the process by my Town Council colleagues, The team at Urban Imprint and so many Knutsford residents; too many to name here but a big THANKS to you all- please share my pride”
SINCE THE announcement by the British Red Cross that the War Memorial Cottage Hospital was to be sold the Town Council has been working on behalf of the community to seek a satisfactory outcome. The Town Council established a working group comprising Cllrs Stewart Gardiner (lead), Andrew Malloy and Peter Coan with Mr Derek Empson MBE, Mrs Sylvia Chaplin and Mrs Mabel Taylor with the aim of protecting the building and seeking a suitable outcome for the community commensurate with the investment provided by Knutsford over a number of years.
An initial attempt to protect the building through registering it as an Asset of Community Value was rejected by Cheshire East Council on the grounds it didn’t meet the statutory criteria. The Town Council then applied to have the building listed as a Building of Architectural or Historical Interest (a listed building) which was rejected by Historic England in November on the grounds it was not of sufficient interest in a national context (see rejection report here). The Town Council is now seeking to have the building designated as a Locally Listed Heritage Asset.
In June the Town Council met with the British Red Cross where it was reinforced that the value attributable to the asset is directly and solely a result of the investment of the Knutsford community and set out a request for 25% of the profits from sale. Such funds would either be placed into a Community Trust Fund to benefit the health and wellbeing of the Knutsford Community or used to fund new community facilities.
Despite being chased numerous times, the British Red Cross has not responded to the Town Council’s requests and as such the Town Council has now publicly written to all trustees of the charity and other interested parties. You can view a copy of the letter here.
“We have been patient in waiting for the Red Cross to respond to our concerns and our request and are disappointed that they have done little but acknowledge our requests” said Cllr Stewart Gardiner, lead member for the Council’s discussions with the Red Cross.
“This is an extremely emotive subject for our community and it is unfortunate that little can be done to protect the building beyond appealing to the new owner when the sale goes through.”
The Knutsford War Memorial Cottage Hospital opened in 1922. It was created as a war memorial for the town and surrounding parishes with funds raised through donation and fundraising events from the local community
In 1948, with the advent of the National Health Service, the building was taken as part of the new NHS.
Throughout its life as a hospital the Knutsford community has continued to invest in the building; raising almost £70,000 (excluding inflation, land values etc).
The original donation of £17,464 in 1922 would be worth around £895,000 when factoring in inflation
The hospital closed in 1994 and was sold to the British Red Cross. At the time the Town Council advocated a leasehold arrangement but the NHS sold the freehold.
The Hospital is Knutsford’s war memorial and it must be noted that the Haron Baronian statue is not presently a public war memorial.
Residents of Knutsford are being urged to help shape the future of their town through the Knutsford Neighbourhood Plan. Knutsford Town Council, leading on the development of the community-led plan has launched the first survey to capture people’s views on a range of topics.
Cllr Nicholson and Cllr Gardiner implore residents to complete the survey
The questionnaire, which is being delivered to every household in Knutsford, will help inform the first stages of creating the Neighbourhood Plan which will shape development in Knutsford alongside the Local Plan.
Covering everything from Health and Housing to Education and the Environment the survey results will form the basis of the next stages of developing the plan.
“This is an important step in developing our Neighbourhood Plan and I implore everyone to spare the time to have a say in the future of our Town” said Mayor of Knutsford, Cllr Jan Nicholson.
“It is vital that this plan has the support of the community and built on firm engagement with residents and the first stage for this is getting as many responses as possible” Cllr Nicholson added.
Households will receive a paper copy of the questionnaire with a pre-paid envelope for returns and it is also available online at www.knutsfordnp.org.uk.
“The more responses the better” was the call from Chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Committee, Cllr Stewart Gardiner who added “We have set the survey out in theme groups and are happy for residents to choose the topics most important to them, whether that’s heritage, the Town Centre, sport or something else”
Residents who have any queries about the survey or want to find out more about the Neighbourhood Plan can visit www.knutsfordnp.org.uk or contact the Town Clerk on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01565 653 929. The survey is also available in large print and if you need help completing the questionnaire this can be arranged.