SADDLEWORTH Councillors are sweeping across the community to get locals involved in a new Neighbourhood Plan to help shape the future of the area.
Cllr Barbara Beeley and Cllr Robert Knotts launched the plan at Uppermill Civic Hall in February to around 50 councillors, community association representatives, and residents.
The first of its kind in the borough, the plan will set out a vision and policies for the whole of Saddleworth and Lees, including village specific aims as well as overarching themes.
The plan will look at how to protect and enhance local communities, where new businesses should be located, protecting green spaces, flooding, schooling, traffic, and more.
All ideas need to be supported by an evidence base, including looking at local employment, heritage and conservation, the environment, leisure and tourism, and demographics.
The plan must be in line with legal requirements and national planning policy, as well as any strategic polices already in place in the area.
Now, residents of all ages are being invited to get involved with the consultation and have a vital input into the development of Saddleworth.
Cllr Knotts told the Saddleworth Community Groups Forum at their March meeting: “It is not the Saddleworth Parish Council’s plan, it is YOUR plan and your neighbourhood.
“It is the opportunity to look at and do all sorts of things in our area.
“We have to engage and consult with as many people as possible to get all sorts of ideas.
“We are not talking about potholes but the bigger things that impact and shape the future of Saddleworth.
“Whether we want it or not, houses are going to be built in Saddleworth as that is a government pressure, as it is across the country.
“But the Neighbourhood Plan can give us a say and an influence on where those houses are going to be.”
Workshops for each village community association are being organised to help residents get involved, and there willalso be public meetings as well as more information published online, with more details to be confirmed soon.
Cllr Pam Byrne, chair of Saddleworth Parish Council, said: “If we do not produce something, we will just be included in the Oldham plan. This is our opportunity and we have to take it.
“It does seem daunting but as we get started with all the community groups, I think it is going to work very well.”
Cllr Keith Lucas added: “It is important we get people of all ages involved as this plan will set out what Saddleworth might look like for the next 40 years.
“We need to engage with children as well as older people at both ends of the spectrum about what they want.”
The steering group aims to consult with the community over the coming months and prepare the plan by January 2018, then submit it for an independent examination by June 2018.
There will be a referendum on the plan in October 2018 and if it gains more than 50 per cent of votes it will be adopted by Saddleworth Parish Council, Oldham Council and Peak District National Park.