A CALL-to-arms has been made for Stratford residents to help shape the future of the town – before it’s too late.
Volunteers representing townspeople have spent two years working on the Stratford Neighbourhood Plan, which details the way forward on everything from transport to tourism in the future.
If the plan is approved, it will be subject to a referendum and if more than half of townspeople vote in favour of it, Stratford District Council will have to adopt it to use when considering planning applications.
A six week pre-submission consultation period began last month, but with only two weeks left, organisers are desperate to hear from more residents. They are concerned many people are confusing the plan with the district council’s Core Strategy consultation.
Mark Haselden, chairman of the volunteer steering group, which has drawn up the plan, is urging townspeople to have their say.
He told The Observer: “We have brought together a plan based not only on what we believe the people of Stratford want but also on the things that will help develop the town in the future. We’ve had a lot of input from organisations but we now need people to tell us whether we’ve got it right.
“Suggestions have been put forward on a number of key issues and while some will agree, there’s bound to be divided opinion so it’s important for people to tell us where they would like changes to be made or to comment on things they don’t agree with.”
A public consultation on the original plan in 2013 found residents were keen for Stratford to retain its market town character and unique heritage.
The wide-ranging updated plan focuses on hot topics such as the increasing traffic congestion in the town and the prospect of expanding existing schools or building new ones to meet the needs of the town’s growing population.
Residents also raised concerns about the availability of green space and the plan suggests making areas including Rowley Fields, Welcombe Fields and Shottery Fields ‘local green space’ in a bid to protect them from the threat of housing development.
And with just two weeks left before the consultation ends on July 3, Mr Haselden is keen for people to have their say.
He added: “Six months down the line we don’t want people to say ‘Well I didn’t want that there’ or ‘I didn’t know anything about this’ and this is the opportunity for people to do something about it.
“There is a far greater chance of something happening if there’s a body of opinion so if local residents want to see changes or conversely, want to give something their backing, they need to let us know through the consultation.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to influence something, which will eventually become planning law, and it’s a chance for people to a make a big difference in their area.”
Visit www.ourstratford.org.uk to read the full draft proposals or printed versions are available at Stratford Library, the Town Hall and at the district council offices.