Working Task Groups
The Parish Council has a number of Working Task and Finish Groups who are created to oversee a certain project or area of the village. Once they have completed their specific task or project, they are normally disbanded. These groups are open to members of the public and report into the Council.
Conservation Area Task Group
During the process of producing the Neighbourhood Plan for Holmes Chapel it was appreciated that our Conservation Area had received little attention since its designation in 1976. There had been no review of the area and many people had forgotten it existed or the significance of the designation.
The purpose of defining a Conservation Area is to provide extra protection from inappropriate development. But in addition it defines the historical heart of the community which will attract visitors from elsewhere and thus provide support for local business. Thus, encouraging the Holmes Chapel community of residents and businesses to take pride in their heritage will have many benefits.
This was the background to the establishment of a small working group in 2018 to consider what improvements should be encouraged and what could be done to raise the profile of our Conservation Area. The following issues were looked at:
To install four display boards on walls in the Conservation Area to raise awareness amongst the general population and the businesses. These boards described the buildings in the Conservation Area and their history. The boards were funded from a grant provided by the Co-op in the village and the work was completed in 2019.
To reduce the use of advertising boards (A boards) around the Conservation Area. A leaflet provided by CEC was circulated to all businesses to ensure they were aware of the limitations on their use.
To make retail businesses aware of the advice and guidance regarding any external advertising in the Conservation Area. This included reviewing all the shop fronts especially on old buildings and a report was produced in 2019.
To review where improvements could be made to the Conservation Area. One such area was Church Walk and a plan had been formulated and some funding identified by the Parish Council.
At the same time as this work progressed the Parish Council were considering a review to the Neighbourhood Plan and it was decided that a professional Conservation Area Appraisal would be carried out. This work would result in a formal document which would form part of the planning guidance from Cheshire East Council and influence future planning applications in and around the Conservation Area. It would also include a management plan which would provide advice on how the guidance could be put into practice.
The Conservation Area Task Group will be involved in this process which is likely to begin later this year.
Strategic Planning Task Group
The future vision for the village is Holmes Chapel will be a vibrant and prosperous hub of the local rural community, offering an attractive place to live, work and play for people of all ages.
On 18 April 2017, the Holmes Chapel Neighbourhood Plan (2010 to 2030) was ‘made’ by Cheshire East, which brought the policies in the plan into a legal framework for considering all planning applications alongside the Cheshire East Local Plan. The Parish Council agreed that it must continue to consider all matters which affected the future strategic and tactical matters affecting the parish area and in some cases beyond. A Strategic Planning Task Group (SPTG) was formed in May 2017 with a formal ‘terms of reference’ and a reporting line through the council’s Strategy & Finance Committee (S&FC).
The SPTG consists of parish councillors and residents and has the ability to set-up small sub-task groups for research and evidence gathering. The SPTG meets monthly and produces minutes and reports to the S&FC and sometimes to Full Council.
Specific areas within its remit are:
Examination of the CEC Local Plan and all updates, including subsidiary documents, for the purpose of reporting back to the PC Strategy & Finance Committee (PC S&FC) on recommendations. The PC S&FC may delegate responsibility to this Task Group for directly responding on any consultations with subsequent reports directed to the PC S&FC;
Keep under review the Holmes Chapel Neighbourhood Plan including research and evidence gathering that will support any revision to the plan;
Review existing and proposed developments in Holmes Chapel for compliance with the Holmes Chapel Neighbourhood Plan.
Monitor new approved developments against their approved plans and conditions;
Review Neighbourhood Plans for other CEC parishes which might have an impact on the Neighbourhood Plan for Holmes Chapel and make recommendations where required to the PC S&FC;
The SPTG has prepared two documents, “Holmes Chapel – Beyond 2030”, which presents a possible vision for what may need to be considered in the future and “Holmes Chapel – Traffic & Transport”, which presents short, medium and long term options for what can be done to improve this area of the village infrastructure. These have been presented to Cheshire East Council (CEC) by the full council and their contents accepted as a guide plan for the future.
If any resident would like to contribute to or be part of the work of the SPTG, please contact the Clerk.
The SPTG normally meets monthly and future dates can be obtained by contacting the Parish Office.
Minutes from the meetings can be viewed clicking the below link and supporting documents in the folder below
Strategic Planning Task Group Reports
Traffic & Transport Task Group
The initial Traffic & Transport Working Group was formed as part of the support for preparing the Holmes Chapel Neighbourhood Plan. Once its main analysis work was completed, the group disbanded.
When the Neighbourhood Plan was “made” it was decided to create a Strategic Planning Group to both follow up on the many issues raised by residents, through the consultation process and to monitor how the Plan delivered on its objectives. Later this was extended to looking beyond the current Plan duration, at how the village might evolve post 2030.
As part of these objectives and recognising the degree of concern expressed by residents on traffic and pedestrian issues, it was decided to re-form the Traffic & Transport Group. In this case, it became a Task Group which reported back to the Strategic Planning Group.
Councillor Mike Blomeley agreed to set up the group and sought volunteers from the community who had an interest in traffic issues. Initially just two residents joined the group, who had been involved in the original working group. It held its first meeting in February 2017. From this small nucleus, the group has grown to ten members, including some with professional expertise in traffic and highways matters.
Having identified the key issues the group worked up a comprehensive report on traffic issues in the village and identified practical solutions to alleviate those problems. The initial work was extended to identify a number of pedestrian safety concerns and six locations around the village were prioritised for remedial actions. Finally, a consolidated report was completed and approved by the Parish Council.
The next stage was a presentation to Cheshire East Council, the highways authority with the responsibility for funding highway maintenance, improvements and new capital schemes across the Borough. The Council Leader and senior Highways Officers attended the presentation, together with our Member of Parliament. Whilst the presentation was well received and the problems acknowledged, Cheshire East Council did not have sufficient funding to undertake the necessary improvements in the short term.
Following the elections in May 2019 and a change of political control, a further presentation was made to the new Deputy Leader of the Council and Highways Officers, to try to ensure the new administration was fully aware of the issues and concerns in Holmes Chapel. Once again, the report was well received, but also again, new funding is not forthcoming.
Another topic of concern is the state of the footways around the village. Footways include roadside pavements and surfaced footpaths between roads. As a result, the group carried out a comprehensive survey around the village, backed up by photographs and a priority condition scale to highlight the worst areas. The group was particularly concerned about residents with limited mobility and parents with small children in buggies and prams, where uneven and broken surfaces present the most hazards. This was submitted to Cheshire East Council, but once again, funding constraints mean there is little prospect of any remedial work being carried out.
The Group has taken a pause but will meet again when able to in the current crisis. New members with a willingness to contribute to the process and particularly with relevant expertise, are always welcome, as not all the current members are always able to attend meetings. It is a friendly group but has debated the issues covered with robust arguments and opinions that over time have delivered probably the most comprehensive survey of the issues of any Parish or Town Council in the Borough. The frustration is the inability to secure funding to deliver some positive results, but we will not give up!