The first round of public consultation has closed in Altrincham's bid to be one of the first town centres in England to develop a Town Centre Business Neighbourhood Plan.
More than 1,000 towns and communities around the country have taken steps to produce a Neighbourhood Plan, but often in rural or village settings.
The Altrincham plan will be put together by a group of 90 community volunteers known as the Altrincham Business Neighbourhood Forum. The forum has been formally designated by Trafford Council to undertake the task.
The plan would seek to define the various uses to which land can be allocated and will influence the policies that will determine the size and design of future buildings and spaces. It will also guide where private and public sector investment takes place. After the different stages of the consultation process, residents and businesses will be given the opportunity to vote for or against the plan. If they vote for it, Trafford Council must adopt the plan and use it as the basis for all their town centre planning decisions from 2015 up until 2030.
To date, the first phase of consultation has been completed with over 1400 local people submitting questionnaires and giving their opinions on how they would like to see Altrincham Town Centre develop.
Tony Collier, chairman of the forum and managing partner of Milner Boardman Chartered Accountants, said: "The creation of this plan is so important as it will help to determine how Altrincham town centre will look and develop in the future. To create a plan that will truly benefit the town we need the help of those who know their town best; those who live and work here and it is fantastic that over 1,400 have taken part in the process so far. We need their participation to tell us what they want to see and how they want their town centre to look. Their thoughts will count and at the end of the process they will get the opportunity to vote for or against the plan. If they vote for it, Trafford Council must use the plan as the basis for all their town centre planning decisions. This shows just how real and influential this plan will be and we are proud to be one of the first towns in the country to be developing a Business Neighbourhood Plan."
The data from the questionnaires completed so far will now be evaluated and turned into draft proposals, including options where appropriate. These proposals will be out for public consultation in early 2015.
The forum has gathered feedback on what facilities residents would like to see in the town centre, how the town can best respond to the challenge that online shopping presents, whether there should be more housing provision and how the environment, access and car parking can be improved.