Opposition to proposals for the future development of Warrington by the District Council have brought six Parish Councils together in their campaign. The local campaign group, chaired by Cliff Taylor (pictured), a Councillor at Grappenhall and Thelwall Parish Council, unveiled their own new plan ideas at the end of October under the title 'A New Plan for a Changing World’, which they say is much more realistic and appropriate than the Council's development and infrastructure-led 'masterplan' published last year, and which is described as 'now out of date'.
The Group consists of six Parish Councils - Stretton, Lymm, Appleton, Hatton, Walton and Grappenhall and Thelwall - who joined forces to support residents in their opposition to the 'Masterplan' proposals put forward by Warrington Council, which would radically change the shape and look of the town.
According to the Council, its town centre masterplan pulls together current achievements, short-term ‘quick wins’ and longer term 'transformational investments'. It claims to 'build upon what’s special about Warrington town centre – particularly its cultural assets and architecture, its locational advantages and its waterfronts and green spaces'.
The opponents say it earmarks the release of large areas of green belt and believe the scale of development is ‘clearly undeliverable’, and is too infrastructure-led. They also say it insufficiently embraces sustainability and directs much development away from the existing town centre. An executive summary of their alternative report has been sent to all borough councillors, senior council officers, parish and town council clerks and the town’s two MPs.
Elements of the original District Council scheme include:
- Circular Parklands – enhancing the ‘green ring’ around the town centre.
- Rediscovering the River - developing areas orientated towards the river, ensuring attractive waterfront promenades with walking and cycling routes, enhancing and creating parks and open spaces and improving bridge crossings.
- Changing the main shopping streets – through cafes and restaurants with active frontages and outdoor eating, transforming former shops into new space for small businesses, converting vacant and underused commercial space into new homes and promoting pop-up spaces for temporary, colourful activities.
- A Place of Culture – reinforcing the town centre’s sense of place through new public spaces (Time Square and Riverfront Plaza), enhancing and pedestrianising routes, animating streets and spaces through alfresco dining, public art, street markets, events and festivals and further improving the offer of The Pyramid and Warrington Museum and Library.
- Town Centre Living - working with partners to deliver over 8,000 new homes in the heart of the town, and ensuring as many as possible are affordable for local people.
- A Focus for Business – making Warrington town centre a focus for new businesses and hotel development, focusing on four key locations – Stadium quarter, Bank Quay Rail Hub, Southern Gateway, Riverfront and Port Warrington.
- Keeping the town centre moving and connected – further enhancing Warrington’s transport network and connectivity, tackling congestion and promoting active travel as laid out in Warrington’s Fourth Local Transport Plan (LTP4), and delivering a National Rail Hub at Bank Quay train station, grasping the opportunities of HS2/West coast Main Line and Northern Powerhouse Rail.
Chairman of the Parish Councils Opposition Group, Councillor Cliff Taylor from Grappenhall and Thelwall Parish Council said, “We have prepared a report which outlines the reasons for our stance and suggests possible alternative routes the Council could take. We welcome the decision by the Council to delay the preparation of the Local Plan which provides an opportunity to develop a new version that would be sound. It would take into account recent events such as the economic effects of Covid-19, the uncertainty over Brexit and an increasing concern by the public about climate change.
“We argue that a change of course now would have advantages for the whole of Warrington in terms of developing the Town Centre, reducing inequality and tackling environmental issues."
The group of Councils have made a ten-minute video about their alternative thinking, which they launched at an online public event in late October.
View the six Councils' Alternative Plan video here: