Castlefield residents launch Localism bid

Castlefield could 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, under proposals which opened for consultation today.

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 will start on Monday 7 March.

The proposed Neighbourhood Plan area would cover 161 acres bounded by Chester Road to the south, River Irwell to the west, north to Quay Street and Old Granada Studios and 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 Castlefield Neighbourhood Plan would be subject to a consultation process and referendum and then form part of the Local Plan, statutory development blueprint. It is necessary to get more than a 50% ‘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, chairman 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.”

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