Frequently Asked Questions- Your Place shaping consultation
What is Your Place and why are you undertaking yet another consultation process on planning and development?
The change of government has brought a new approach to producing plans about development and how land is used. The Government says these should be based on local aspirations and objectives known as ‘localism’. It intends to remove what it calls ‘top down targets’ that are set out in Regional Spatial Strategies, with the introduction of new legislation during 2011. In anticipation of the new localism guidelines the Council is giving people the chance to express a truly local view for the first time. We have tried to come up with a new way of looking at the possibilities so it is a genuinely new opportunity to comment and the responses will help us draw up our Local Development Framework.
What’s a Local Development Framework (LDF)?
It’s the document that will set out the principles by which we decide what can be built and where, over the next twenty years. It will also contain policies on sustainability, protecting the environment and managing our infrastructure. It’s a very important document. See The Local Development Framework section for more details.
Why have you called the process Your Place?
It’s easier to manage a process and get some interest in it when it has a bit of personality. We chose Your Place because this is simply what the new plan will be about. We don’t mind if you don’t like it; so long as you get involved anyway.
Why have you come up with these characters?
Just asking people to think about the future of their communities can be a bit dry and difficult, especially for people who don’t normally get involved in these sorts of exercises. It also tends to involve people telling us about themselves rather than considering the issues that the whole community faces; which is where our responsibilities lie. The characters are meant to reflect real life and are designed to provoke discussion about situations that are important and challenging. It’s a way of kick starting people’s thinking, not to limit debate.
Who created Your Place? - did you pay consultants to produce it?
No, all materials and techniques were adapted from a similar project undertaken by Winchester City Council by Cheshire East’s Spatial Planning team.
Why do we have to do this now?
We have to produce our Local Development Framework for consultation next year and there is a lot of work to do to produce a draft for consideration by the Council and then the wider community. Our existing planning policies are becoming out-dated and this could lead to the things happening that we don’t want through appeals. It’s not fair on people with legitimate development aspirations for them not to know what our policies are either. So we need to stick to a fairly demanding timetable in everyone’s interest.
What will you do with all the responses?
This is the biggest challenge of course. In some communities there might be quite a good consensus of opinion about what should happen in the future. In these cases we might be able to take that forward into the Local Development Framework without too much difficulty; but in many places, people and interest groups will differ greatly. In the end we have to produce a Local Development Framework with policies that are grounded in evidence and a realistic view of the future. That’s because the Local Development Framework will be looked at by an external inspector to check that it is sound. We can’t just write down all the things people say to us; not least because a lot of those things will contradict each other. The Council will have to use its judgment to distil from the responses a sensible approach to meeting the needs of the Borough.
So you’re going to ignore individual views?
We’re not going to ignore any views. But there aren't many important issues about which thousands of residents of the Borough all share precisely the same view. So the Local Development Framework will need to make a balanced judgment on what is right, to reflect the views received and to address the issues facing the Borough over the next 20 years; it is not a referendum on particular proposals.
How does Your Place fit in with Parish and other forms of Community Plans?
Your Place provides an opportunity for communities to either start or review an existing plan; it will not replace them. The information gathered by way of Your Place will be collated and then translated into a set of planning policies that will be applied across the whole of Cheshire East, but given the local emphasis there may be data that communities will find both interesting and useful in initiating a community based plan.