Residents are being invited to have their say on a pre-submission draft of Wooler Neighbourhood Plan.
A steering group, supported by Wooler Parish Council, has been working hard on the document.
There have been a number of public events, open sessions and surveys, all asking for the community’s thoughts about what’s best for Wooler’s future.
The consultation period began on March 1, and will run until Friday, April 26.
The plan and supporting documents are available online at www.woolerneighbourhoodplan.org
Printed copies will also be available during normal opening hours in the Library at the Cheviot Centre, Health Centre, Glendale Hall, Glendale Garden Centre, and in all churches in Wooler.
Three consultation events are also taking place where residents can find out more and share their views.
They are on Saturday, March 16, from 11am to 12.30pm at Glendale Hall; Tuesday, March 19, from 3.30pm to 6.30pm, Newton’s Shop, 46 High Street; and Wednesday, March 27, from 4pm to 7pm, Cheviot Centre.
After the consultation, the steering group will review and redraft the plan, taking account of all comments made and the level of support expressed for the draft policies before submitting a final version to Northumberland County Council in the summer. The county council will then publicise the final plan for a further six-week period when the public will be able to have a final say.
Following this, the county council will arrange for the plan to be independently examined and comments will go straight to the examiner.
The plan envisages a town fit for all and for generations to come – where residents can live, work and enjoy themselves, and also welcome visitors to the Gateway to the Cheviots and the Northumberland National Park ensuring that, as Wooler develops over the next 20 years, the needs of the whole community are met.
Decisions on planning applications will be made in accordance with the plan’s policies, so they are important in guiding Wooler’s growth.
Wooler needs to grow, ensuring that new development provides the right type and mix of housing to cater for all ages, that the town centre will flourish, and businesses will have more opportunities to start up or to develop, with an emphasis on providing more employment, especially for younger people.
All this while maintaining the special landscapes, natural environment, townscape and distinctive local heritage which is enjoyed by residents and many visitors.
The town’s vision for its future is linked to five key objectives.
The first is about housing in the parish and encourages the provision of well-designed new housing which respects the distinctive landscape and townscape of Wooler Parish and provides variety and choice for people in order to enable more young families to stay or to move into the area, and to help those on lower incomes and older people to meet their housing needs.
The second is about enhancing Wooler’s economy with increased opportunities for business growth and maintaining a vibrant town centre to attract a variety of businesses.
Objective three focuses on cherishing Wooler’s distinctive landscapes, natural environment, townscape and local heritage by ensuring new development is located to encourage improvements in key areas of the town and ensuring that the design of new development reflects the distinctive character of Wooler parish.
The fourth is about community life in Wooler and aims to protect existing community facilities and services and support the development of new ones to maintain a vibrant local community and attract visitors to the area.
The fifth and final objective is to ensure that new development contributes to the accessibility of Wooler for residents and visitors with better access links between the town centre, the countryside, housing areas and employment areas. It also mentions ensuring that parking is managed in a way that does not have a negative impact on the landscape.