PEOPLE interested in shaping Stroud’s future are invited to the first public meeting to launch the town centre’s Neighbourhood Plan.
The meeting, on Saturday, July 26 at Lansdown Hall at 2pm and 3.30pm, is open to everyone.
“We want to spread the word about the likely scope of the plan and the community process needed to create it,” said Prof Hugh Barton, member of Interim Steering Group for the development plan.
“We want volunteers with skills, knowledge and a real feeling for Stroud to come forward. There is a wide variety of topic groups needing enthusiastic commitment.”
Last month Stroud Town Council agreed to create a Neighbourhood Development Plan for the town centre and Cheapside area.
Once completed and approved by the community, the plan would become a statutory planning document that can be used to support or challenge planning applications.
It will cover the town centre including Merrywalks, the Cheapside area and the main gateways into the town.
The town council working group, which has been promoting the idea, will introduce the plan at 2pm and then again at 3.30pm.
People can come at either time.
There will be information, questions, and the possibility of small group discussions.
“By the end of the afternoon we hope to have got some volunteers for each of the thematic groups, and suggestions for the Steering group, so that initial preparatory work can start over the summer,” said Leonora Rozee, chairman of the interim group.
As well as the steering group there will be various thematic groups covering topics such as the town centre economy, social and housing issues, ecology and energy, the built environment and public spaces, movement and networks, land use and development, and public engagement.
On July 26 people will be able to register an interest in being a member of either the Steering Group or a thematic group (or both).
Ms Rozee said what is needed is a good balance of different perspectives, interests, skills and knowledge, together with enthusiasm for the task.
Once the Steering Group proper is formed, it will be responsible for managing the preparation of the plan.
“Stroud town centre has a unique character which is changing fast. Shops are closing, but social and cultural activities are flourishing,” said town councillor Steve Hurrell, who has chaired the working group on the proposal.
“There are vacant and underused sites and retail units. There is potential for more housing. Areas around Cheapside and the railway are very poorly connected especially for those on foot or cycling. The progressive reopening of the canal offers huge opportunities for the future. The doubling of the railway line to Swindon will also affect this part of town.
“The Neighbourhood Plan is intended to address all these key issues, and give much greater influence to Stroud Town Council, working with SDC, on decisions about which planning applications for Cheapside and the Town Centre will be really beneficial to Stroud for many years to come.
We need to find out what the community wants