A very good turnout of just over 30 people met in the Town Hall last night to hear the benefits to Whitchurch of creating a Town, or Community, Plan.
Such a Plan sets out a vision for the future of the town and can be a step towards local people having a greater say in what happens where they live.

Tony McCarthy opened the meeting with a review of the present position and how a small team had been working hard towards a launch but that it now requires much wider community involvement.

Presentations
The meeting was shown a short film on how other communities have benefitted from a range of initiatives; from play trails and markets to road calming and car parking. A presentation by Liz Dermody showed how such a Plan can be put together by individuals and groups working in partnership and that a number of high-profile consultation events would play a major part in determining the content. The facility of the town’s website and its now very well-established position in the community was covered and how it could act as a major tool in the communication channels that will be required.

Many questions
Questions from the floor covered the Plan’s relationship to local authorities and other agencies, and how it can help gain funding for local projects. It was made clear the Plan would not over-ride existing planning policies but would act as a means of expressing local opinion on various issues. References were made to the Whitchurch Design Statement and the more recent Town Health Check exercise which led to a number of successful town improvements.

A wealth of experience
It was also noted that Whitchurch also has many active community groups, all of which can be part of the exercise, and that there is a wealth of experience in the town that can be harnessed. Whitchurch is lucky in that it already has a track record of successful change, with good information and communication resources.

Moving forward
But the main focus must now be on bringing people together to move the project forward; to take roles from Chairman and Secretary to data recorders and leaflet delivery – all equally important.

Do you feel that you could make a difference to our town?
Anyone who would like to assist or become involved in anyway, however small, to help make Whitchurch a place where local people determine its future are asked to make contact through contact@whitchurch.org.uk

Here is a short film that shows what community planning is all about: