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Local Plan examination hearings begin

The public hearings into Warrington’s Local Plan get under way on Tuesday 6 September.

Warrington Borough Council submitted its updated Proposed Submission Version Local Plan to the government in April. Under government policy, every local planning authority is expected to deliver sustainable economic growth through up-to-date Local Plans which will contain strategies and initiatives to achieve their aims.

Warrington’s plan aims to to drive forward growth and development and help deliver the homes, jobs, transport infrastructure and community facilities the borough needs, while protecting the Green Belt as much as possible.

Before a Local Plan can be formally adopted and brought into use, it must be subject to an independent examination by an inspector, appointed by the Secretary of State.

Inspectors Kevin Ward BA(Hons) MRTPI and Andrea Mageean BA(Hons) BPl PhD MRTPI will carry out the independent examination of the Plan. The four-week hearings will assess whether Warrington’s plan is ‘sound’. This includes deciding whether it meets the four tests of ‘soundness’ set out in national planning policy. In summary, these are that the plan is positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy.

Weeks 1 and 2 of the hearings will take place at Warrington Conference Centre, Halliwell Jones Stadium, while week 3 will be held in the Council Chamber, Warrington Town Hall. The final week of hearings will be held virtually.

The Inspectors have been provided with copies of all representations made in writing, by email or through the standard response form during the consultation period. They will consider the evidence provided by the council to support the plan and all representations which have been put forward by local people and other interested parties. They will also listen to the views of local people who have made representations and registered to take part in the hearings.

Following the hearings, the Inspectors will let the council know if any changes need to be made to the plan and these will then then consulted on by the council.

The Inspectors will then consider everything before them, including comments on proposed changes, and write a final report which will be sent to the council and published on its website, marking the end of the examination.

Following this, the Plan will proceed to Full Council for adoption. This is anticipated to take place by autumn 2023.

Warrington Borough Council Leader, Cllr Russ Bowden, said: “I’m pleased that the examination in public – such an important milestone for our Local Plan – is getting under way. It is a statutory requirement of the government for every local authority to have a viable local plan, and we’ve worked hard to develop a plan - listening to the views of local people - which meets the needs of our borough. I hope that the inspectors, once they have considered all the evidence, will agree that this plan is the right fit for Warrington.”

For more information, visit the dedicated web page at warrington.gov.uk/local-plan-examination, which includes details from the Inspectors on the key matters that they will be discussing, a full timetable for the hearing sessions and all correspondence, evidence, representations and other relevant documentation.