Memorandum by Council for the Protection
of Rural England, Warrington (CPRE) (NT 04)
Generally it is felt that the original New Town
design concepts were to be commended, the attempt to provide an
attractive environment that would regenerate Warrington and encourage
new industries to locate here.
We believe that only limited integration into
the older part of Warrington took place. The most significant
attempts being in the Old Howley area and infill within the original
areas of Grappenhall and Stockton Heath. This limited integration
tends to leave a feeling of "old and new" within the
The policies on environment were not carried
forward into the existing parts of Warrington; these still remain
by and large as they did prior to the New Town inception.
Those socially excluded areas within the town
centre and areas to the north received only limited benefit and
remain recorded as one of the most deprived area in the UK.
Perhaps future New Town planners should more
forcibly pursue their environmental principles into the original
areas of urban deprivation that prompted the designation of New
Town, even if this means considering demolition. This would also
generate new communities with mixed housing types and population,
breaking down "old and new"
Initially the new areas of developed land had
a mix of rented and private housing but this policy seemed to
diminish as time went on. Subsequent to New Town dissolution the
reduced planning powers of the local authority has meant it being
largely ignored by housing developers. Current Planning Guidance
seems to be trying to redress this with emphasis on "affordable
housing" and WBC are trying to carrying these forward in
Perhaps in the future the New Town Development
agency should not be disbanded until the local authority has a
Local Development Plan in place, thus assuring a continuance of
policies and ensuring community participation in the process.
New Town strategies should more closely follow the latest Planning
Guidance, and move with changes to them, to ensure a more regularised
New town planning strategy was to facilitate
an employment and therefore population influx, resulting in a
housing growth above those that would have ensued as "normal"
expansion. This abnormal growth over the New Town period is now
a legacy used whenever future requirements are projected, allowing
inflated housing development applications irrelevant to current
actual need. This is especially of concern in the "villages"
within the old New Town areas, resulting in too many developments
of inappropriate type, scale and mix for these areas.
The agreement to a LDP prior to dissolution would
overcome this issue.
The original precept was of small/medium residential
development, surrounded by trees and greenways for pedestrians
keeping them by and large separated from the road traffic. A hierarchy
of community facilities from local single shops, district centres,
larger district centres and the town centre itself.
This has led to a situation of small estates
isolated from each other with little community cohesion, linked
with pedestrian greenways not way marked or lit and therefore
little used. Some of these routes have been closed at residents
request because of vandalism or safety issues. People using the
roadways not equipped with pavements for walking access because
these are both the most direct and perceived safest routes. WBC
is currently having to provide pavements alongside the main road
thoroughfares to alleviate the safety problem posed, an unnecessary
Ensure in future that greenways are the most
direct route between housing and local amenities. Provide good
signage and lighting. Paths and routes constructed for a "Sunday
stroll with the dog" are not necessarily suitable for a child's
journey to and from school.
Warrington New Town Planners envisaged the car
being the main mode of transport, providing expressways and extensive
roads around the new developments. However this dependency on
cars built into the New Town plans and designs is now requiring
significant traffic calming, speed restrictions and pedestrian
safety access to be provided and is also contrary to current thinking.
It has also led to a reduced bus infrastructure within the borough,
although it has to be said this also suffered under legislation
on bus competition. It has become extremely difficult and time
consuming to travel to disparate locations across the town by
There appears to have been no consideration
to the separation or reduction of heavy goods transportation into
and out of the employment areas leading to lorry traffic on inappropriate
There appears to have been no consideration
of an integrated public transport strategy with the conurbations
of Liverpool and Manchester attempting to reduce car journeys
especially for commuting. Presumably the intent was for more localised
employment but the commuter traffic to the conurbations is large.
Future New Town planners should consider a multi-modal
transport strategy that fully encourages the use of public transport.
Consideration should be given to the wider area of commuters both
into the regenerated employment areas and also outward to adjacent
towns. Thought should be given to the provision of rail freight
for the bulk transfer of goods to employment areas. Rail, and
other public transport infrastructure, outside the immediate New
Town area should be provided.
English Partnerships control of land has resulted
in a change of emphasis from the New Town concept of land use
for regeneration and community betterment to one of profit. Their
holdings and the long-term development approvals have a constricting
effect upon the changing needs of the town and the whole region,
indeed we understand that this is a subject to discussion by the
GONW. Areas such as the Omega employment site and locations in
Appleton are seemingly outside WBC authority to discuss, and or
change, in the formulation of its UDP.
The management of land held by the New Town Authority
at its dissolution should be "handed-over" to the local
authority. As previously suggested the agreement of a UDP prior
to this would ensure a seamless continuation of policy and local
control would ensure the flexibility to respond quickly to changes
of local or regional priorities and plans. If this is not practical
then English Partnerships should act as agents for the local authority.
There appears to be differing criteria for the
transfer of land in ownership by the New Town at its dissolution.
In Warrington some passed to English Partnerships, some to the
local authority, some into private ownership. It was not visible
to the general public how the decision for transfer was made and
has lead to significant local speculation.
See previous comment. Any transfer arrangements
must be made more visible to the general public to avoid accusations
The ongoing commitments to maintenance of the
infrastructure provided by the New Town are considerable, upkeep
of parks and green spaces, Ranger Services and the local community
centres. There has been a noticeable decline in these services
post New Town dissolution, not unexpected given the changing status
of the town.
Either the New Town authorities should provide
low cost planning solutions or more innovative methods of finance.
If not some method of funding these services post dissolution
needs to be found; the current arrangements place a significant
burden on local finances. Perhaps profits raised from the transfer
of land could be used to fund them. As a general comment it should
be the local community that benefits from such transfers not English
Partnerships or individuals.