Public consultation on a village redesign proposal slammed as “fundamentally flawed”
Plans for a village and its public consultation have been slammed as “fundamentally flawed”.
Hale Civic Society and the Federation of Small Businesses have criticised Trafford Council’s plans to redesign Hale Village – saying they will “ruin” the area.
According to the council’s plans, if approved, Hale Village could see:
- More trees planted
- More art installations, celebrating the area’s heritage
- Expanding and improving access to village green areas (clock tower and bowling green)
- Reduction in speed of and calm traffic flow through centre of the village
- Adopt a design guide for shop fronts along main streets
- Install of new seating areas and lighting
- Install new cycle parking facilities
- Consider moving “some” parking provision to make parking more central
- Remove pedestrian crossing outside Costa on Ashley Street
- Move some loading bays outside shops
- Improve walking routes through village centre, widening footpaths and improve paving
- Consider removal of the bus stop lay-by adjacent to the bowling green to provide more parking spaces
- Encourage independent traders
- Retain traders in village centre
But members of Hale Civic Society are concerned these plans don’t tell the whole story. They’re worried plans for cycle lanes and wider pavements will gridlock the village’s already congested roads and add to the woes of smaller local businesses struggling to get customers due to parking problems. Members said they have and will do all they can to promote sustainability in Hale village, but they believe it’s about “going green sensibly”. One member said: “All cars are not just going to magically disappear overnight.” The members also alleged that the questionnaire Trafford Council has sent out for residents and businesses to fill out is complicated, hard to complete and time consuming. One person said it took more than two hours to fill in the feedback form online; flicking between resources to understand which parts of the plans the questionnaire was referring to. The Hale Civic Society added that the questions asked in the feedback forms were “loaded”, with no option to voice opinions that did not agree with set options. They added this made them feel like the council was “imposing” its plans on the area.
One member for Hale Civic Society said: “It’s like they’re trying to develop an already overdeveloped area. They’re forgetting the basics, forgetting what it’s like in real life for the people living here. The council seems to want to ruin our village.” Another said they felt there was no dialogue between the council and residents.
They said: “It’s like they’re ignoring large parts of the community – the church say they haven’t been asked for their views, the sixth formers who are studying [town planning] in our schools, why not involve them? There’s no engagement.”
Members of the Federation for Small Buisnesses added their concern that the consultation was not inclusive enough for those without internet access. Both groups said they felt it was like they’d “hit a brick wall” when trying to approach the council about their concerns – some said they’d written to the council but received no reply.
A spokesperson for Trafford Council explained that, alongside developers Nexus Planning, it carried out “substantial” consultatoin with the public and stakeholders about the Hale Village plans.
They said the first round of consultation in summer 2019 generated hundreds of “fantastic” responses. This has since been followed up with a more recent, second public consultation event in the village which saw more than 100 people attend. The latest consultation has received hundreds more responses again, with many people saying that they approve of the plans and proposals detailed in the document. The plan will not just focus on motor vehicles and parking – it will help create a centre that is safe, accessible by multiple modes of travel with reduced levels of pollution. The benefits this will have on the health and wellbeing of the local community need also be taken into account. This is a draft plan and nothing is set in stone so people have the opportunity to tell us what they like and don’t like about the plans.”
The authority has extended the consultation deadline for the plans to March 10 “to make sure that everyone has had the chance to have their say.”
The spokesperson added: “The council cannot respond to individual consultation responses, but will address issues raised when we subsequently report back to our executive.”
Article originally appeared on Manchester Evening news
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