Community leaders were told the results of a regeneration survey sent out to Cheadle residents this summer in a meeting with Staffordshire Moorlands District Councillors (SMDC) last Wednesday (December 15). The Cheadle Stakeholder Panel which includes SMDC councillors and officers, as well as Cheadle Town Council members and others, held a virtual meeting to further discuss regenerations plans for the town.
Community leaders were told the results of a regeneration survey sent out to Cheadle residents this summer in a meeting with Staffordshire Moorlands District Councillors (SMDC) last Wednesday (December 15).
The Cheadle Stakeholder Panel which includes SMDC councillors and officers, as well as Cheadle Town Council members and others, held a virtual meeting to further discuss regenerations plans for the town.
The survey, which was prepared by Filigree Communications on behalf of SMDC, asked members of the community to state how much they agreed with statements on housing, shopping, and leisure services amongst other topics.
The statements in full were: “We must make it easy to shop, spend time and money in Cheadle; We must welcome more people to live in Cheadle; Providing flexible parking options is a priority; Cheadle needs to retain a similar leisure offer with improved quality of facilities; Integrated services will benefit community health and wellbeing.”
Residents submitted their responses over the course of six weeks, between August 19 and September 24 earlier this year.
A total of 841 responses were gathered – something Neil Rodgers, Executive Director at SMDC, said was, in his experience, “a good number” which showed “the importance that people in Cheadle put towards their town and the regeneration.”
More than half (54 per cent) of respondents disagreed that more people should be welcomed to live in Cheadle, with 27 per cent agreeing with the statement.
Most said that an improvement to the town’s infrastructure was needed, primarily in education, health and transport.
Some stated that there are already too many people in Cheadle, of which the population is thought to be between 11,200 and 12,000, housed within approximately 5,150 households.
However, others were more welcome to the idea of a greater number of affordable housing and smaller homes.
A huge 95 per cent of entries said that steps should be taken to make it easy to shop, spend time and spend money in Cheadle.
Cheaper parking, support for businesses and a greater variety of shops were outlined as required improvements by participants.
Further to this, 85 per cent of people said that they agreed that providing flexible parking options is a priority.
Later in the meeting plans about the SMDC’s Emerging Parking Strategy were outlined.
Additionally, 83 per cent said Cheadle needs to retain a similar leisure offer currently available with improved facility quality.
Finally, 61.5 per cent of respondents agreed that integrated services will benefit community health and wellbeing.
Many felt that the facilities at Cheadle Hospital should be integrated with new health services introduced, and that the hospital was an asset to the town.
Speaking about the first topic, Mr Rodgers said: “There is a very challenging point around should we encourage more people to live in Cheadle.
“I think if you ask that in most communities there would be concerns over infrastructure and services, but its important for the council to note that – and particularly the concerns on infrastructure and services.
“There is a certain need for certain types of housing as people see it but every council throughout the country has a requirement to provide more houses for people – that’s an absolute duty and every town has to take its responsibility.”
He added: “There is a Local Plan – I know that its hugely controversial – but it has been approved.
“So housing is going to come Cheadle’s way. What we need to do is make sure its the right housing and we do have proper needs assessments around what Cheadle needs.
“That needs to be reflected in the new developments and developments need to ensure that they take into account that infrastructure requirements in those developments and the pressure they cause.”
Cheadle Town Mayor councillor Sue Walley said: “However many times we ask the public what they would like to see in wellbeing and health it always filters back to Cheadle Hospital.
“It stands to reason that if we have more houses then we are going to have more families, more people.
“And we already know our doctors services and all our health services are stretched and were stretched, actually, before the pandemic.
“Cheadle Hospital would provide a very good base to have another doctors surgery and also maybe some sheltered housing within that building.
“I just wonder how we can move forward unless we have any definite answers from the NHS as to what they consider will be the fate of Cheadle Hospital.”
Stakeholder panel chair cllr Ian Plant then read out a statement he recently received from the Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
Reading it verbatim, he said: “Over the past 12 months we have continued to provide a range of outpatient services from Cheadle Hospital.
“While the Trust has also run the Phase 3 Novavax Covid-19 vaccine study from the hospital site in association with the National Institute of Health Research, beds are also being utilised at Cheadle Hospital to support timely discharge from Royal Stoke University Hospital as part of the system response to the anticipated increase in patient attendances over the winter.
“With the regard to the future of the Cheadle Hospital site, no decision has yet been taken.”
Cheadle Town councillor Kate Martin stated: “I think it’s quite positive that they have sent that email.
“It just goes to highlight how important that hospital is to the town throughout this pandemic that we’ve got that hospital there to fall back on.”
Cheadle Hospital was a site of interest within the regeneration plan with uncertainty over its immediate future prior to the pandemic, but the site has now been ruled out of plans due to the part it continues to play in helping to manage Covid patients.
A newsletter thanking participants for their participation along with the results of the survey is set to be sent to residents ahead of a follow-up edition sometime in the new year which will be based on an analysis of what people have sent in and how SMDC is taking action in response.
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