Blears sets city boundaries in new Regional Spatial Strategy

Warrington is part of Manchester and Chester is in Liverpool, according to Communities Secretary Hazel Blears who today published the latest planning policy blueprint for the region.

Blears re-confirmed plans to include Chester, Vale Royal, Ellesmere Port and Neston in the boundaries for the Liverpool city region for future planning policy, according to the draft Regional Spatial Strategy. Policies for Warrington sit within the Manchester city region section.

Public consultation on the proposed text of the statutory document, which forms the blueprint for all local authority planning decisions, began today and lasts until May.

The 225-page report states: "Liverpool city region includes West Cheshire and Vale Royal where the historic city of Chester is a world-class tourist asset with a prosperous, compact retail and business centre, and the town of Ellesmere Port which has a strong manufacturing base with scope for expansion."

The report adds: "Whilst it is accepted that the city regions overlap…for the purposes of articulating policy, each local authority is only included in one city region."

The third priority city region covers central Lancashire and includes Preston, Blackpool, Burnley and Blackburn and their hinterlands.

In Cumbria, focus is put on the economic development of Carlisle, Barrow-in-Furness, Workington and Whitehaven.

Transport features strongly in the policy statements with the international role of the Mersey ports and Manchester Ship Canal emphasised. There is a suggestion that central Government funding may be available to Peel Holdings for increasing the transfer of freight from road to rail at both of these sites.

Sustainability inevitably features highly too, with planning officers urged to promote sites close to public transport links and adopt stricter policies on renewable energy.

The stated vision for Liverpool is to "regain [its] status as a premier European city region by 2025."

Manchester's, on the other hand, is that by 2025 it will be a "world class city region at the heart of a thriving North."

On the controversial restraints on new building suffered by house-builders in many parts of the region in recent years, there is an easing of the Government's position. The annual allocations have been raised in Bolton, Bury, Wirral, Trafford and Wigan, although delivery away from designated Housing Market Renewal areas will still be frowned upon.

The document was first drafted in 2006 by the North West Regional Assembly, which will be disbanded over the next two years with responsibility for spatial strategy switching to the North West Development Agency.

After considering the responses the Government will publish the final version of the Regional Spatial Strategy later this year or early next. An independent public examination of the RSS has already taken place and informs the version published today.

The Proposed Changes Report can be viewed and downloaded from the Government Office for the North West website at Further information is available from the Regional Strategy Team, Government Office for the North West, City Tower, Piccadilly Plaza, Manchester. M1 4BE. Tel 0161 952 4250. E-mail:

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