THE councillor responsible for the local plan has responded after residents were left frustrated due to encountering difficulties while trying to make submissions during the consultation period.

Warrington Borough Council’s nine-week consultation on the draft local plan and local transport plan closed on Monday, June 17.

The local plan aims to deliver the homes, jobs, transport infrastructure and community facilities the town requires.

But it has sparked widespread concerns – with the proposals for green belt, in particular, leaving residents and politicians angry.

Green belt land has been earmarked for 7,064 homes and around 213 hectares of employment land.

Cllr Ryan Bate (LD – Grappenhall) questioned Cllr Judith Guthrie (LAB – Westbrook), cabinet member for environment and public protection, on the matter during Monday’s full council meeting.

He highlighted that residents have expressed frustration due to difficulties while using the online consultation form.

Cllr Bate also asked what steps will be taken to ensure future consultations are as ‘accessible as possible’ to the public.

In response, Cllr Guthrie reassured him that each reply – including those submitted through online forms and e-mails – will be taken on board.

She added: “As for learning from this, we will only know once the consultation ends, but we will seek to learn from anything that we have in this consultation.”

Cllr Guthrie also confirmed the authority was receiving three consultation responses every five minutes during the day on Monday.

The South Warrington Parish Councils’ Local Plan working group says it maintains the authority’s local plan proposals are ‘unsound’.

It represents Lymm, Grappenhall and Thelwall, Appleton, Stretton, Hatton and Walton parish councils.

Chairman Cllr Cliff Taylor says: “We believe that what we have said in our submission is the overwhelming view of the people in south Warrington and we now await the council’s response.

“The plan proposes to create growth by accepting vast new logistics facilities and allowing new housing on a very large scale.

“It proposes to take away green belt irreversibly to accommodate them.

“This is supposed to regenerate the town centre but how this will happen is not explained.”

Cllr Taylor also highlighted fears over extra traffic on the borough’s highway network.

And he claims the environmental damage will be ‘severe’, if the plans go ahead.

He added: “There are no credible plans for improving the road network or changing the way people travel.

“We do not think that the local plan will achieve the council’s own objectives and instead it will keep the town in the grip of lorries and cars indefinitely.

“In short, the local plan is fundamentally unsound. It should be withdrawn and overhauled from top to bottom to give the town a vision of the future fit for the challenges of the 21st century.”