THE inaugural meeting to plan Northwich’s future saw an enormous turnout from a community keen to take control of its fate.

The meeting, at Winnington Park Recreation Club, started the process of producing a Northwich Neighbourhood Plan.

So many members of the community attended the event, in the club’s Park Suite, that it was standing room only despite extra chairs being brought in.

David Roberts, chairman of the neighbourhood plan group, said: “This has been a good start for us, we’re very encouraged by it.

“We’re very enthusiastic and this attendance has energised that.”

David was joined by Murray Graham, who has been appointed as consultant for the scheme, and Duncan McCorquodale, from Cheshire West and Chester Council, to explain the importance of the plan.

David said: “A neighbourhood plan can run parallel to a local plan and have just the same amount of influence in terms of the planning regime.

“Anyone that comes in and attempts to do things that aren’t in the plan will find themselves in difficulty.

“It’s so important because we have come together collectively as a community to talk through how we would like to see our community develop.

“It’s not from the outside in but from the inside out.”

Murray said: “This is your opportunity to make a difference and formulate a plan for Northwich.

“People have a lot to say about their towns but don’t often have this chance.”

Duncan said 19 communities in west Cheshire are currently working on a neighbourhood plan, with two parishes, Tattenhall and Winsford, in the final stages of the process.

He said: “A local plan is the policy framework of what’s going on in Northwich and a neighbourhood plan is about putting flesh on the bones.

“It’s for you as a community to say what you see as the opportunities and challenges of the changing nature of town centres.”

The meeting also gave people chance to comment in the plan’s seven action areas of housing, health and welfare, employment and education, environment, retail and commerce, transport and infrastructure and recreation, tourism and the waterways.

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