Residents reluctant to have their say on homes plan


Jim Green

FEWER than 150 people have taken part in the public consultation on controversial plans to build 2,000 homes in the green belt surrounding Chester.

Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) estimates 5,250 homes are needed in Chester by 2030 and proposes building 2,000 on greenfield sites.

Campaigners warned there would be huge opposition to the plans and fear using the green belt for development could destroy the city’s character.

CWaC launched the first phase of an extensive public consultation in August and has confirmed only 130 responses have been received.

Residents and businesses are being urged to make sure they have their say on the proposals before the consultation ends on November 12.

Cllr Margaret Parker, chairman of the council’s local development framework panel said: “This consultation is everyone’s chance to help shape the policies and proposals that will support investment in much needed new homes, business development and our town centres and the protection and improvement of our environment.

“So far we have only received 130 responses and it’s very important as many people as possible share their views on policies that will shape development in the borough for the next 20 years.

“We are at the beginning of a two-year process that will involve further rounds of consultation and an examination in public before the local plan is adopted in 2014.

“But this does not mean views at this stage are not important. The feedback from this consultation will be crucial to shaping the plan as it moves forward.

“We particularly want to hear what people think about the possibility of removing some land from the green belt around Chester – whether people feel that there are ‘exceptional’ circumstances to justify this change.”

Policies covered by the plan cover issues ranging from housing and the green belt to employment and town centre development.

Across the borough the council says 21,000 new homes are needed and residents are being asked how many homes they feel are needed and where they should be built.

Chester is the only area that would see green belt land released for development.

Council leader Mike Jones said: “The local plan is one of the most important blueprints for the future of our borough and it is vital residents help to shape its policies.

“I would urge people to consider the particular challenges facing Chester’s economic growth and the exceptional circumstances which we believe justify an alteration to the green belt on the edge of the city.

“This would involve development on a very small percentage of land – as little as 0.2 percent of the borough’s total green belt area – to accommodate approximately 2,000 homes.

“As an authority, we have a duty to review all the options to ensure that we can present the local plan inspector with a robust, soundly developed set of policies.

“Having no local plan would expose the green belt and rural area to inappropriate development. This is why it is so important that we follow a proper process.”

See full story in the Chester Leader

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