Unpacking the issues in plan

Consultation on the Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan taking place in Alnwick's Market Place.
Consultation on the Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan taking place in Alnwick's Market Place.

The consultation process for the Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan is now in full swing and continues until the end of September.

Over the next few weeks, the Gazette will be highlighting some of the proposals advanced in the plan.

“This is a new approach to planning designed to give local people more say about what goes on in their area,” says Bill Grisdale, Alnwick’s Mayor.

“It sets out a vision of how we all want to live, what we want to improve our daily lives and how these changes should happen.

“Most importantly it offers local people a chance to have a say in the future of our town.”

Heritage and Culture

Alnwick is rich is heritage and cultural assets: A ducal town surrounded by robust northern beauty; a townscape and architectural designs dating from its medieval, Victorian and 20th-century past; significant historic features such as the Castle, Market Place, and modern additions such as The Alnwick Garden; and ancient and modern cultural attractions including the Playhouse, Bailiffgate Museum, Aln Valley Railway and Barter Books, as well as annual cultural events (Shrove Tuesday Football and the music and food festivals). All of these combine to forge a distinctive identity for Alnwick.

“Heritage and culture is about quality of life,” says David Lovie, topic lead. “Our task is not just to preserve and protect those historic assets, and to ensure that they are kept in good repair. The plan considers how a medieval town adapts and responds to the needs of its residents and visitors in the 21st century.”

Much of the centre of Alnwick is designated as a conservation area. There are 340 listed buildings and 14 scheduled monuments within the plan area. The plan sets out in its policy recommendations to protect and sustain the built heritage, regulate the design of new development and promote the attraction of the historic environment of Alnwick and Denwick.

In relation to the cultural life of the town, the plan acknowledges a number of challenges, including funding pressures, vehicular access and signage, and weather management of outdoor events. It proposes within the ambit of the Community Action Plans to undertake an audit of existing needs and to develop a programme to strengthen and enhance cultural provision.

The plan acknowledges that some key issues cut across a variety of themes – for instance, the use of Market Place touches upon heritage, culture, transport, tourism and the town-centre economy.

Environment and Open Spaces

“Any community needs open spaces. They are the lungs which provide our refreshment,” says a local resident on the plan DVD which will be shown around the area in the coming weeks.

Rachael Roberts, topic lead for environment, adds: “Environmental issues affect everything around us. It is key that local people have a say. There are some things we can do quite quickly, such as increase the area designated for allotments and set aside some of our green spaces as nature reserves.”

The environment chapter of the plan is wide-ranging in its scope and proposals, taking as its overall aim: To improve well-being and reduce the environmental impact of the people who live or work in and visit Alnwick and Denwick, to increase the amount of public open space that is readily accessible to all, protect and increase biodiversity and make us more resilient to increasing fuel prices and climate change.

Its 14 policy recommendations and 12 Community Action Plan proposals tackle not only how future developments should provide for green spaces, allotment land and green corridors, but also set out for us as a community the challenges of drainage and flooding, small-scale renewable energy, dog fouling and waste recycling.