Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

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 community.

  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 its UDP.


    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 "hand-over"

  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 expense.


    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 public transport.

  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 minor roads.

  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 of mal-practice.

  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.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 16 April 2002