The Localism Act 2011 gives town and parish councils the power to create Neighbourhood Plans that allow those who live, work or carry on business in the area covered by a Plan to develop a shared vision for their neighbourhood and shape the development and growth of their local area.
Since 2013, a team, including parish councillors and other parish residents, worked to capture that shared vision and create a Neighbourhood Plan for substantially all of the parishes of Newbold Astbury and Moreton cum Alcumlow.
Following the electors’ overwhelming approval of the plan in the referendum on 17 August 2017, Cheshire Council have adopted (or “made”) the plan, and now forms part of the statutory development plan for Cheshire East Council.
Designating the Neighbourhood Plan area
Neighbourhood Plan areas are initially proposed by town or parish councils and then formally designated by the relevant local planning authority. Initially, Newbold Astbury cum Moreton Parish Council proposed a plan area covering all of the two parishes. After negotiation, however, on 10 March 2014 Cheshire East Council approved an area that excluded an area of land identified for use in the construction of the Congleton Link Road.
Developing the Neighbourhood Plan
The Neighbourhood Plan team then sought to understand the aims and desires of the community for the two parishes, primarily by open meetings and a survey that elicited 90 completed survey forms.
(The questions in this survey were based largely on the priorities and concerns identified in the now identified Parish Plan, published in 2005.)
A preliminary draft has been seen and approved by the full Parish Council and Cheshire East Council, who have also prepared a Strategic Environmental Assessment Screening Opinion.
This opinion concludes that at present there is no need for a full Strategic Environmental Assessment.
A slightly revised version of the draft plan is now ready for public consultation.
Pre-submission public consultation
The pre-submission (‘Regulation 14’) public consultation stage in our plan presented our draft Neighbourhood Plan for comment. This was an opportunity for all who live, work or carry on business in the neighbourhood plan area, as well as a list of statutory consultees, to comment on the plan.
The public consultation period commenced on 1 December 2015 and was open for six weeks, ending on 11 January 2016. All responses to this consultation are available on our Pre-submission Public Consultation web page.
Submission of completed plan to Cheshire East Council
Following the public consultation, the Neighbourhood Plan team considered all responses and revised the draft plan in their light. The parish council reviewed and approved the revised plan, and printed copies were sent to all households in the two parishes.
The parish council has now submitted this revised version of the Neighbourhood Plan to Cheshire East Council, along with further required documents (‘Regulation 15’), ready for the next stage in its development.
Post-submission public consultation
On receiving the submitted Neighbourhood Plan and its associated documents, Cheshire East Council published them on its website and opened a final period of public consultation (‘Regulation 16’), which closed on 3 April 2017. You can find more on this consultation, and in particular all responses to it, on the Cheshire East website:
Submission of plan proposal to examination
Cheshire East appointed an examiner, Andrew S Freeman (‘Regulation 17’). His job was to check that the plan proposal meets certain basic conditions. Such an examination could require further changes be made to a plan.
Mr Freeman read the plan proposal and related documents, and wrote to the Neighbourhood Plan team with a list of initial questions. The team produced a response to these questions:
The examiner then submitted his draft report to Cheshire East Council. His overall conclusion was that, subject to some modification, the plan should proceed to a referendum. The neighbourhood plan team were happy to agree Mr Freeman's modifications, and delighted with his conclusion. The team then updated the plan to incorporate Mr Freeman's modifications:
Publication of examiner’s report
The examiner then submitted his final report to Cheshire East Council (‘Regulation 18’): you can also read on the Cheshire East Council website.
Having receiving the examiners report and decided to take the plan (modified according to the examiner’s report) forward Cheshire East Council announced that the plan would be put to a referendum of electors in the two parishes. The result of the referendum would be decided on by simple majority, and there was no requirement that turnout should exceed any threshold.
The referendum took place on 17 August 2017, with the following results.
The question on the voting slip was:
Do you want Cheshire East Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Astbury and Moreton to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?
On a register of 589 electors, 221 votes were cast (82 postal votes, including one handed in at the polling station, and 139 in person): a 37.52% turnout.
Of those, 203 voted in favour of ‘Yes’ and 18 in favour of ‘No’.
Completing the development of the plan
Because a majority of voters answer ‘Yes’ to the referendum question, the plan has adopted (or “made”) by Cheshire East and become part of the Cheshire East Local Plan: decisions on planning applications will be made using both the Local Plan and the Neighbourhood Plan, and any other material considerations.