Give your views on town’s future

A LANDMARK project to give residents a say on how their town develops is being launched in Wirksworth.

The community is set to come together to create a town plan – if a bid for £20,000 worth of funding is successful.

The scheme, part of the government’s Localism Act which heralds a ground-breaking shift in power to communities, means residents will have more freedom to run their neighbourhoods in their own way.

Town and district councillor Mike Ratcliffe who is helping to lead the Wirksworth Town Plan said: “This will give people a chance to talk about their aspirations for the town.

“We’ve had developments taking place, such as the Kingsfield housing development, which residents have had concerns about and we thought maybe we ought to be having a bit more direct input as to what we want to see happening in the town.”

He added: “Wirksworth, I think is the ideal place for this project due to the strength and support of the community, the large volunteer base and the knowledge we have from the recent traders survey.

“Residents are very proud of their town and we want to maintain our own independent character.”

If funding is secured it will pay for a major consultation across the town for residents to have their say on Wirksworth’s future.

Issues set to be looked at include: should more land be developed, does Wirksworth needs new shops, which places in our town need protecting, can the environment we live in be even “greener” and low energy based and are there enough play areas?

Steve Brett, a member of the Town Plan team, said Wirksworth had an active community with many groups including NOW, the festival community, a transition town initiative and a recycling group, who would all be involved in the project.

He added: “This project has come from a couple of different things. The town council was thinking about where Wirksworth is going and the government has introduced this new Localism Act.

“Residents would like the opportunity to say what they want rather than waiting until developments come along. Wirksworth will be one of the first towns to produce a local plan”

Last week Derbyshire Dales District Council voted to support the bid, under the government’s Localism Act, and has applied to the Department for Communities and Local Government for funding.

Anyone who wants to get involved with the project can contact the team by emailing wirksworthplan@ymail.com or by writing to Town Plan Team, c/o Town Hall, Coldwell Street, Wirksworth DE4 4EU