Lower Peover Parish Council last signed off a Parish Plan in Q1 2020. A parish plan is an in-depth survey of a community undertaken by that community itself for its own benefit, to find out how it wants to see itself develop. This often can be over a five to ten year timescale but the challenge the Parish Council have set is to work on up to five key initiatives that will have deliverables with a far shorter timescale to complete (up to a maximum of one year). This will include an action plan to make sure all this actually happens. It provides an opportunity for people to take stock of their community and to decide which aspects of their community they like and wish to preserve, and perhaps enhance, and which aspects they do not like and want to change.
There are three core principles that define parish planning and distinguish it from other methods of community engagement. These are:
· Plans are owned, managed and led by the community. This is different from other consultations where people are asked for their views by local authorities and other service providers, largely on pre-determined projects or programmes. Parish planning provides our community with the opportunity to set its own agenda and bring about positive change without the need to wait for others to get things done.
· Everyone in the community should have an opportunity to get involved and have their say. This is achieved through Residents Surveys. These surveys hopefully enable the production of a high quality and robust plan that has the support of everyone locally and delivers actions that are based on a sound understanding of local needs and aspirations.
· Actions will be based on evidence and address a range of different issues important to our community. Parish planning can cover social, economic, environmental and cultural issues. We can produce a plan which covers anything you want, within reason!
In order to ensure we adhere to these principles, a survey of residents was completed in 2019. The Work Streams identified below very much aim to bring to life the hopes and aspirations residents shared in that survey as well as easing concerns.
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF PARISH PLANS
A Parish Plan is aguiding document, drawn up by the community, which generates a vision of the social, economic and environmental development of the Parish. It identifies local problems, issues and opportunities, sets out achievable aims for the future and provides a plan for the development of the Parish.
The recommendations as to how life in the Parish may be improved and the village itself developed are the result of input by the residents, as recorded in completed questionnaires.
The aim is not to replace established planning guidance at a County or local level but to supplement and complement that existing planning framework, so as to conserve and enhance those individual and sometimes unique local village and Parish features that the community values.
In 2020 the Lower Peover Parish Council agreed that a Steering Group be established to prepare a new Parish Plan. As documented earlier, the aim being to harness what residents actually would like to see happen in our village.
As we have now moved forward two years there is a need to review the makeup of the Steering Group and the progress against the work streams previously established. There has been significant progress in achieving the aims of all the work streams. For example, we now have Welcome Packs prepared and printed, containing a wealth of information about the Village and all its amenities together with a procedure to ensure new residents are provided with copies. This work stream will now close and be transferred to business as usual’. In the case of the ‘Biodiversity’ workstream, the Parish Council last year, with volunteers, cleared the pond and surrounding area located at the rear of the local primary school. This work stream, as will be seen later, will now be revamped to include actions to help with climate change. An amended list of work streams and action plans follows: -
WORK STREAM 1.Councillor Steve Wilson
It has been felt for some time that a more standardised and consistent approach to the responses that Lower Peover Parish Council issues in respect of planning applications, should be considered. In effect a set of rules or protocols to be drawn up that guide the nature of planning aspects that the Council considers are acceptable in our village and those that are not.
Many local parish councils have adopted planning protocols which will prove useful in stimulating ideas for our own village and the style of development felt appropriate.
Councillor Wilson will be heading this work stream going forward in conjunction with a local resident.
WORK STREAM 2. Councillor Alan Brown
ROAD SAFETY AND PLAYGROUND IMPROVEMENTS
In the 2020 Parish Plan Councillor Brown worked on securing improvements to the children’s play area on Swan Grove. Having identified that monies were being set aside under the planning consents for the Harvey Homes residential building development to the south of the village, plans have now been agreed to re-vamp and add new attractions to the play area. This will mainly be financed from the above funds paid to Cheshire West Council, but Lower Peover Parish Council will also be making a contribution. The work is due to start in Q1 2022 and input has been sought from local parents who have asked their own children what they would like to see in the play area. This has very much guided the type of new attractions that will soon appear. Whilst still work in progress, the play area project hopefully will soon be transferred to become another work stream accomplished.
A second strand to this work stream involved a close look at road safety, and with Lower Peover children in mind, on how safety might be improved along the main road arteries in the village. Hopefully this will lead more parents to feel confident to use pavements to walk their children to school.
Plans under discussion with the authorities include road calming measures/reduced speed limits/better speed awareness signage/footpath clean up.
WORK STREAM 3. Councillor Heather Agan de Visser
WEBSITE AND DATABASE
The 2020 Parish Plan incorporated a work stream that targeted the establishment of a GDPR compliant database containing the names and email addresses of all residents living in Lower Peover. The obvious benefit being to enable communications issued by the Parish Council, including regular newsletters, to be distributed electronically rather than through expensive print funs and delivered by hand. The need for residents to complete a specific GDPR‘opt in’ form rather than simply agreeing by return email that the Parish Council may hold their details for this purpose, has proved a major obstacle. Some progress has been made but the majority of residents have yet to be signed up. A refreshed Action Plan therefore is required to increase penetration in this area.
Another strand to this work stream and again under the general heading of IT, involved work to improve the look, style, and content of our website. Significant improvements have been made over the last two years with the valuable assistance of the Parish Clerk but there remains a need to keep the website up to date and fresh on an ongoing basis.
The Councillors volunteering to take this work stream forward will consult with local residents for feedback on what our local community would like to see appear on our website. The work stream will be worked on in conjunction with the further support of our Parish Clerk.
WORK STREAM 4 Councillors Ben Jackson and Louise Corlett
Work on improving broadband access for residents of Lower Peover started under the IT work stream contained in the 2020 Parish Plan but has now grown to the extent it qualifies to become a separate work stream under Councillors Corlett and Jackson.
Posters have been setup around the village seeking feedback from residents who experience poor or unacceptable broadband speeds. The Lower Peover Fibre Working Group has been established which has a dedicated email address for residents to report their broadband problems.
Work is ongoing with potential new providers of fibre broadband and partners linking in to any government incentives that are available to help this process. Updates are being produced by the working group to keep residents impacted aware of progress.
WORK STREAM 5. Councillor Alison Painter
BIODIVERSITY AND CLIMATE CHANGE
Within the 2020 Parish Plan‘Biodiversity’ featured as a work stream and will be retained under the 2022 update. One project (the restoration of the natural pond to the rear of Lower Peover School) completed successfully in the interim.
Another pond at the junction of Barrows Brow and Free Green Lane has been identified for restoration but funding and detailed plans for this new project have yet to be agreed. Through the Parish Clerk we have established that the area of the pond and surrounds is under the control of Cheshire East Council to whom we must first obtain relevant consent or licence
It is proposed that we combine the‘Biodiversity’ work stream with climate change using the NALC paper issued in October 2021 as a guide to how the Parish Council in conjunction with local residents can formulate ideas to address the threats of climate change. https://www.nalc.gov.uk/news/entry/1878-nalc-publishes-new-report-on-climate-change?mc_cid=5517cfbf56&mc_eid=4c1ecbb1c8