14:44 Monday 09 December 2013

Deadline to help shape town future looms large

Written byRICHARD CASTLE

THE people of Uttoxeter have until Friday to complete a consultation that could help shape the future landscape of the town.

The neighbourhood plan will be compiled by Uttoxeter Town Council and absorbed into the borough’s local plan - the document setting out how the town will be developed in the coming years.

With several protests groups springing up to battle proposed housing developments all over town, councillors claim the more people who contribute the neighbourhood plan, the more influential it will be.

At the start of November, the council have sent out 9,000 consultation documents to find out how and where Uttoxeter residents want to see the town developed.

It is now making a final call for homeowners to return the forms to the town hall or complete an online version at www.uttoxetertowncouncil.org.uk by Friday’s deadline.

Martin Blencowe, a Heath ward town councillor and chairman of the borough’s planning committee, told the Advertiser the plan aims to ‘give power back to the people’.

He said: “It’s vital that people really stand up and take notice and make their views known.

“If we have documentary evidence with thousands of responses on where and how people want to see Uttoxeter developed, that will take precedence in the development of the borough’s local plan.

“Our neighbourhood plan, if approved, will have a very real influence on what sites are added to the local plan and which planning applications are approved or rejected.

“There are all kinds of local amenity issues that could be raised and we have a great chance to shape our town for the future of our children.

“If we accept growth, we have to make sure it benefits the whole town and we don’t become a dormitory town just supplying shoppers for Stoke-on-Trent and Derby.”

After consultation responses have been documented, the town council will make a draft version of the neighbourhood plan.

That draft will then be put to a public consultation and, if ratified by tax payers, will be officially launched.

Councillor Blencowe said the plan will have a ‘real influence’ on East Staffordshire Borough Council’s future decisions on which housing development applications to pass and which to throw out.

He said: “People do a lot of moaning about things but consistently fail to put their views forward to decision makers.

“We had it over the car parking price increase. There was lots of complaining before the decision was made and there has been a lot since, but, when the issue was put up for consultation, there was a vastly-insufficient response.

“That always seems to be the case but we want responses from everyone consulted, not just a few disparate views that give us no clear indication about residents’ priorities.

Further information is available by calling the town hall on 01889 564085.

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