Residents and councillors have unveiled their vision of the future for the village of Helsby.
The loss of community buildings will be resisted, views of and from Helsby Hill will not be restricted and new play areas will be encouraged if the draft Helsby Neighbourhood Plan receives the green light.
The Helsby Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group – which comprises residents and parish councillors – has been drawing up the blueprint for the village’s future over the past 12 months, taking into account views expressed during public meetings held in February and March last year and a questionnaire which was circulated to households.
Empowering local people to say how regional and national planning strategies are applied in the community, Helsby’s draft plan covers four key themes – environment, employment, transport and shopping, housing and infrastructure, and sport and leisure.
Among the priorities outlined are that developments of more than six houses will be supported as long as they provide a mix of housing types and sizes and that people with Helsby connections will have priority in their allocation.
Developments should also incorporate local materials and characteristics such as sandstone and tree planting to enhance the local environment and should safeguard Helsby’s wildlife sites, nature reserves and geological sites.
Proposed developments which adversely affect public views of and from Helsby Hill will not be allowed and the loss of community buildings such as the community centre and library will be resisted unless it can be demonstrated there is no longer local demand or that a suitable alternative can be provided elsewhere in the village.
Schemes to enhance rail services and facilities at Helsby station will be supported provided that proposals are accompanied by a station travel plan promoting more sustainable access to the station, as well as increased parking for additional users and employees.
Planning applicants would have to consider walking, cycling and parking provision as part of a comprehensive approach that aims to reduce reliance on vehicles if the plan is adopted.
The creation of open spaces and play areas would be encouraged, while the allotment sites at Queens Drive and Old Chester Road would be safeguarded.
Now the steering group wants to hear residents’ views of the draft before the consultation period ends on May 15.
Cllr Terry O’Neill, chairman of the neighbourhood plan steering group, said: “It’s taken the group a long time to get to this point.
“We have had numerous rounds of consultation that have enabled us to draw up these policies.
“We ask for people to give us a bit more time to carefully digest our proposed policies and comment accordingly.
“Residents have a real opportunity to say how they would like their neighbourhood to develop.”
Draft plans will be available from next week at Fearns Pharmacy, Helsby Library, the Post Office on Chester Road, the Helsby Parish Council office at 200 Chester Road, or online here.
To share your opinions, email email@example.com, attend a parish council surgery on Saturday, April 11, or Saturday, May 2, between 10am and noon at Helsby Community Centre, or post your comments in one of the drop boxes at Fearns Pharmacy, Helsby Library or the Post Office.
Comments will be reviewed and the plan will be amended if necessary before it is submitted to Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC), which will arrange a formal consultation with stakeholders and pass it to an independent examiner for review.
It will then be put to referendum, where residents will be asked whether they want CWaC to use the plan when assessing planning applications in the future.