So Day One………………………………….information, information, information
There’s a certain level of apprehension and excitement around this project for all involved. The site is local to our Handforth office and knowing the high levels of interest in Woodford aerodrome we were expecting a good turn out and some lively discussion.
We weren’t wrong, before the doors opened delegates started to arrive and quite quickly the hubbub of conversation built around the room. Approximately 38 people attended.
The first task of the day was to focus on our feelings around participating in the workshop and the future of the site.
As you can see from the responses the was a great deal of optimism in the room however it’s fair to say a number of people are still to be convinced that public consultation works!
After some team introductions, the delegate group introduced themselves and their interest in the site. A show of hands confirmed that roughly half of those in the room represented residents of Cheshire East and half resided in Stockport.
In terms of interest in the site approximately half the group were attending as local residents and the other half were councillors or representing other key stakeholders.
There was a brief introduction to the site and the decommissioning programme.
Ian Harrison and Simon Styche from Stockport Council and Stuart Penny from Cheshire East’s Spatial Planning team gave the current position with regard to their planning frameworks and how this site and the design workshop would sit within their strategies.
Stockport Council are working towards a Supplementary Planning Document and a draft of this for consultation is expected in the autumn, Cheshire East will be starting a series of placemaking consultation events in their main towns, including Poynton, to gauge public opinion on local amenities, what makes a each a good place to live and where improvements might be considered. Each authority is clearly at a different point in their planning process, we hope the outcomes from this workshop will influence these plans.
To help local authorities with these tasks the role of this workshop group is to listen to and question all the relevant site information, raise areas of concern and consider the opportunities for this site within the parameters and context of the location, local need and impact of development.
Importantly, the outcome of the workshop will not be a masterplan; BAE systems (the site owner) have an appointed team of masterplanners CASS associates to do the design work.
The group then headed out to the site, here we all are lined up ready for the magical mystery tour.
Andy Darlington the site manager at Woodford Aerodrome directed the tour of the site, members of the group marked up notes on plans and questions to Andy ranged from uses/ heritage to built structure on site including the runways.
On returning to the workshop venue delegates were split into 5 groups and asked to consider the top 5 issues for the site. The views of the groups will feed directly into the visioning work on Tuesday.
Following a short break Richard Cass from Cass Associates presented the first cut through the findings of a very well attended Public Exhibition. There is some further work before the final report is ready for issue however delegates got a good flavour of the responses. Richard pointed out that over 1000 people participated and of these around 70% returned a questionnaire, interestingly of those who were able to come along the proportion of attendee’s under 35 was negligible.
This was followed by Richard’s presentation of the site constraints and a question and answer session where the group were invited address any information which they felt hadn’t been answered in the presentation.
The evening was wrapped up with group sessions, delegates noted any areas where they felt further information was still needed. Technical parameters will be picked up in more detail on Wednesday.
I think the day went very well, it was a long day and there was a lot of information and spin off questions in the room. The delegates seem fully engaged and excited about the process so there is real optimism in the TY team that this will be a very successful week and provide some real food for thought for both local authorities.
Many thanks to everyone who gave up their time today, it is very generous, and much appreciated.
So Day 2…………………………….. vision, opportunities, the future of Woodford Aerodrome…………………………….?