Neighbourhood plans for Sandbach and Audlem have successfully passed a key milestone on their way to giving local communities a greater say in development decisions.
Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan and Audlem Neighbourhood Plan have both been given the green light by a planning examiner.
Sandbach Town and Audlem Parish councils are among the first in Cheshire East to take up the new neighbourhood planning powers and, following independent examination, the examiner has declared their plans meet and pass all the relevant tests.
This means that, subject to some modifications, the plans can now move forward to local referenda, where residents of each community can vote on their local neighbourhood plan.
If each referendum is successful, the policies in each plan will be brought into full effect and used when Cheshire East Council considers planning applications in Sandbach and Audlem.
Councillor Ainsley Arnold, Cheshire East Council Cabinet member in charge of housing and planning, said: “It is excellent that we are now at a stage where there will be a democratic process to decide if the proposed plans are robust and appropriate for the communities of Audlem and Sandbach.
“To have got to this stage is an achievement for both communities and their neighbourhood plan steering groups and I’d like to congratulate everyone involved on all the hard work that’s been put in to reach this point.
“Sound and robust neighbourhood plans can allow communities to take ownership of planning policy, which directly impacts on their lives. They enable local people to develop policies to address those planning matters that affect not only their interests but also wellbeing.
“The next steps are to put the Sandbach and Audlem neighbourhood plans to their local residents and ask if they would like it to be used to inform and shape planning decisions. If half or more of those that vote are in favour of the plan, Cheshire East will formally ‘adopt’ it and bring it into force.
“We look forward to supporting our growing number of neighbourhood planners to get to the same point.”
The communities of Sandbach and Audlem have been part of the plan-making process from the beginning and have designed plans that are unique to each local area.
The Audlem and Sandbach neighbourhood plans contain a number of policies specifically designed to shape local development.
Both plans were created to safeguard the long-term development of each town. The Sandbach Neighbourhood Plan focuses on delivering local employment and protecting wildlife and green spaces around the town, while the Audlem plan emphasises good design and meeting the housing needs of local residents.
It is anticipated that referenda in Sandbach and Audlem will be held in the spring.