Parish Council meetings are usually quiet affairs with only a handful of the public coming along. But an agenda item for the last meeting (Monday August 22nd) brought about 160 people to a crowded Edna Rose Room to voice their concerns about the inclusion of a piece of land on Tarporley Road in CW&C's list of possible sites for a Gypsy/Traveller site.
Many of the concerns were about the actual status of the proposals, with some residents being concerned that it was a 'done deal'. Others questioned the role of the Parish Council in bringing the issue promptly before the public and wanted to know how they could make their views known to decision – makers. There were also many questions about how a site would be constructed and managed and how the arrival of such a group of people would affect access to facilities such as primary and secondary education and health.
The Chairman of the Parish Council and both Borough Councillors answered the questions. Cheshire West and Chester Council (CW&C) have a legal requirement to meet the needs of Gypsy/Traveller/Showpeople by providing permanent and temporary sites. They carried out a survey which concluded that between now and 2028, 42 permanent pitches, 5-10 transit pitches and 13 Showperson pitches were needed above those currently available. Of the 25 possible sites first identified as being 'possible', a 'recommended' list of 11 sites was produced. One of those recommended sites is on Tarporley Road just south of the telephone exchange. CW&C is holding a public consultation on this issue before coming to their final decision on which sites to choose. Therefore it is not a 'done deal' and it may be some time before the final choices of sites is made. However this current period of consultation does end on September 23rd. No decision on any site has yet been taken and no planning application has been made.
CW&C has decided to embed this policy within a wider consultation on the Local Plan Part 2, which looks in detail at the implications on the ground of their approved planning strategy. This makes proposals somewhat harder to identify and the route for individuals to comment on the specific parts of the plan a bit more complex. However there are a number of paper and internet routes available to making views known. Details of how to comment will be given in a separate article.
In November 2015 the Parish Council, following a meeting of the Cheshire Association of Local Councils, were aware that CW&C had instructed consultants to carry out a survey and to look for suitable sites based on set criteria. The Parish Council concluded that, as there was, at that stage, no other information, there was no action to take. The Parish Council formally looked at the report after downloading it from the CWaC website at its May meeting (May 23rd) and immediately wrote to CWaC to object to the site on the grounds that it would prevent the development of the land to the east of Tarporley Road for residential use, thus "sterilising" the land in the future.
A number of Parish Councillors will be getting together informally over the next few days to study the Local Plan Part 2 in more detail. Following this there will be an Extraordinary Meeting of the Parish Council on Monday 5th September at 7.15 in the Main Hall of the Community Centre to which all are invited to attend. The Parish Council will again listen to the views of residents at the beginning of the meeting before agreeing comments to send to CWaC.
Ed: Details of how to comment will be given in a separate article to be published tomorrow.
Ed: Click on the Map to see an enlarged version. Your can enlarge it further by clicking the (+) magnifying glass in the top left hand corner.