Consulting on the Unitary Development Plan
A review of the Gateacre 'workshop' evening on 21st January

About 30 local residents took part in the City Council's Planning Workshop at the Millennium Centre. Most people seemed to find the event interesting and worthwhile. After an introductory talk from Mike Eccles of the Planning Department, we split into three groups, each standing around a large map of the Gateacre/Netherley/Woolton area. We used colour-coded 'Post-it' notes and pins to indicate local strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement which the UDP might focus on. The results of each group's deliberations were then summarised by a spokesperson, before all the material was taken away by the Planners to feed into their report.

The main strengths identified were:

  • The existence of conservation groups - like the Gateacre and Woolton Societies

  • The pleasant walks to be enjoyed - through woodland and over Woolton Hill

  • The existence of the Millennium Centre itself

  • Valley Community Theatre

  • Community Transport facilities

The weaknesses included:
  • The loss of green spaces and mature trees

  • Too much, too fast traffic - and the lack of safe crossing facilities

  • The lack of recycling points in Gateacre and Belle Vale

  • Poor lighting in Belle Vale Park, Grangemeadow Road and elsewhere

  • Derelict land left behind after 'estate action' schemes

Among the 'opportunities' were:
  • The suitability of the former Lee Manor School for community use

  • Replacement of the present traffic-calming measures by CCTV cameras

  • A new sports centre and swimming pool in Belle Vale Park

  • Refurbishment of Belle Vale Shopping Centre following the Morrisons development

Will this, and the events like it in other areas of the city, make any difference? Only time will tell. But, as Mr Eccles said in his introduction, "If we don't know what people want, we can't attempt to do anything about it".

Mike Chitty

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