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Public consultation starts for city centre neighbourhood plan

Castlefield is set to become the first area in Manchester city centre to have a Neighbourhood Plan and only the third in the city as a whole, after Northenden and Levenshulme.

Public consultation starts for city centre neighbourhood plan

"We positively encourage new development, but with the number of homes almost doubling over the next few years, were likely to face certain challenges."
Carol Middleton from the Castlefield Forum

In total there are an estimated 4,000 homes in the Castlefield area with a further 3,500 planned, which will nearly double the population, currently estimated to be more than 6,000 people.

Castlefield Forum, a voluntary community group set up by residents in 2009 to help improve the Castlefield area, has submitted to Manchester City Council the proposed neighbourhood area for designation and a six week public consultation started on  7 March.

The proposed Neighbourhood Plan area will cover 65 hectares (161 acres) and will go as far south as Chester Rd, west to the River Irwell, north to Quay St to include the Old Granada Studios site and take in Knott Mill to the east. 

Since April 2012 local communities, under the Localism Act, have been able to produce a Neighbourhood Plan for their local area, putting in place planning policies for the future development and growth of the neighbourhood.

The Neighbourhood Plan will be subject to a consultation process and referendum and then form part of the Local Development Plan.  It is necessary to get more than a 50 per cent ‘yes’ vote in a public referendum to bring the plan into force.  Once the neighbourhood area is agreed, and the Forum is designated by the City Council as the body responsible for preparing the Plan, the Council will be legally required to provide advice and assistance to the Forum.

Carol Middleton, Chair of the Castlefield Forum said: “We want a say in shaping our neighbourhood for the future.  We positively encourage new development, but with the number of homes almost doubling over the next few years, we’re likely to face certain challenges. 

“We need to ensure development is right for the area, with a provision for families, as we believe this part of the city lends itself to family living, more than any other.  Also the provision of local amenities, the value of remaining open spaces and the connections made between developments are all vital to the health of Castlefield.  A Neighbourhood Plan can consider how these developments reflect and link with each other, providing much needed facilities for the increasing population.

“Castlefield is rich in industrial heritage, benefits greatly from the canal network and open spaces and we must take care of this important part of the city so it remains an attractive and functional place for residents, visitors and those who work here to enjoy for decades to come.”

Matthew Dixon, Neighbourhood Plan Action Group Convenor said: “It’s very exciting to get to this stage but this is just the beginning.  We’ve already consulted the local community about the boundary and want to encourage more people to look at our submission and have their say.  We’re keen to engage with as many members of the community as possible, find out what people think and develop a consensus.  It’s vital to create community support so the whole of Castlefield can contribute to the future direction of the area and guide planning decisions effectively for the benefit of everyone.”

To view the submission visit http://www.manchester.gov.uk/info/200074/planning/6101/neighbourhood_planning/5

Anyone interested in the proposal can submit their comments from 7 March until 18th April 2016.

For more information on the Castlefield Forum visit www.ourcastlefield.co.uk, follow @ourcastlefield on Twitter or join the Our Castlefield Facebook group.