The Rainow Parish Plan

The Way Ahead for Rainow

In the beginning

Rainow Parish Council initiated the project to produce a Parish Plan under the Government’s scheme to encourage local planning to be based on the best understanding of what the residents of an area really want. The key statement in the guidance from the Countryside Agency reads,

“The government wants local communities to take more control of their own lives, to say what they want doing in their own neighbourhoods and to engage with other powers to get it done”.

The Plan provides the opportunity to tell the politicians, planners and service providers in our area what Rainow people want for their village in the next decade; it lays the foundation for getting things done.

How the plan was developed

After a public meeting at the end of 2004, a volunteer Steering Group came together in February 2005 and invited small teams of local people called Focal Groups to look at different aspects of village life – social, leisure, traffic, countryside, economic and services. From the work of these teams the Steering Group designed a substantial “issues” questionnaire which gave every individual in Rainow over the age of five the chance to say what they thought about the village and to put forward ideas for improvements.

A very high proportion (more than 50%) of Rainow villagers responded to this questionnaire, giving a very strong foundation for the development of the Plan.

Further questionnaires were circulated at the Church Fete and to a sample of households during July. The Focal Groups gathered all the information relating to their topics from the questionnaires and finalised their ideas on the important issues. They talked with any outside agencies involved and developed ideas on what actions could be recommended to the Parish Council. These draft action plans were then listed on a final questionnaire distributed to every household in December 2005.

The response to this questionnaire – again high – enabled the Steering Group to come to firm conclusions about the action plans.

Rainow today - as it looks to the outside world

Rainow’s story is one of agriculture co-existing with industry until modern times. Fine stone was quarried; coalmines were worked on Kerridge Side and at the height of the industrial revolution over a dozen silk and cotton mills helped feed the local economy. Farmsteads still surround the village but many people in the village now work elsewhere and farming itself is changing fast. Whilst the pattern of work and of the population has changed and will continue to evolve, Rainow remains a community with a life and character of its own.

Today its population is about 1,280, split almost evenly between male and female. There are about 490 households and the average household size is 2.6 (national average 2.4). People aged 20-29 make up only 6% of the population compared with 13% nationally, whilst the 30-59 age group accounts for 48% (42% nationally). More people are working or are students (73%) compared with the UK as a whole (61%) but there are fewer one-person households (19% against 30%). Substantially more households are owner occupied (90% against 69%) and more than twice as many households have two or more cars (61% against 30%). These characteristics shape the needs of the community and thus influence the actions identified in the Plan.

Rainow today - as it looks to the people who live here

From their answers to the questionnaires it was very clear that Rainow people like living here because of the countryside, the village people/community and “peace and quiet”. It was also obvious that people like Rainow as it is and don’t want to see unnecessary change but equally wouldn’t want the village to become “fossilized”. Overall, people have positive reasons for living in Rainow and mainly have the same views about the good features.

The key likes were:

  • Countryside
  • People/community
  • Peace and quiet
  • Access to town/city

Over 90% of the residents answering the questionnaire made use of the countryside, mainly for walking; many people commented on the importance of having attractive countryside on their doorsteps. Since the appeal of the countryside is the most liked feature of life in Rainow, all of the issues related to it take on greater importance than those of the less frequently identified topics. Opinion was divided about attracting more people to the area with slightly more people against the prospect than for it. About a third of Rainow people take part in social activities in the village and generally were happy with what goes on but younger people wanted more village-wide events. There was a very broad support for a public open space in the village.

Main dislikes included:

  • Traffic speed and noise
  • Parking
  • Lack of a shop/café
  • Lack of public leisure space
  • Dog fouling
  • Lack of facilities for teenagers
  • Lack of an evening bus service

In many cases the dislikes arose from difficulties encountered in particular spots within the village such as parking, poor road maintenance and dog fouling. Some issues demonstrated opposing aspects of a problem e.g. mobile phone reception (many people dislike poor reception but do not want visible masts). Some people wanted to see low-cost housing here but others were equally strongly opposed to any further development. Other dislikes were shared by old and young alike – traffic speed and noise. In general people are satisfied with the services and facilities in the village but the secondary school age group felt there was little for teenagers to do in Rainow and the lack of an evening bus service made facilities elsewhere hard to reach.

Rainow in the future – the action plans

The response to the final questionnaire showed general support for all the proposed actions with comments highlighting the enthusiasm for some proposals, the range of views and sensitivities that will need to be taken in to account. The Steering Group finalised thirty proposals to submit to the Parish Council.

To see the thirty proposals please click here…

What happens next?

The Parish Council was already aware of several concerns highlighted by the Plan and had managed to get action taken on several (reducing speed limits through the village, for example.) Others are still being progressed but a significant number of possible actions remain to be tackled. Some of the actions can be handled quickly and without significant expense whilst others call for considerable further work and may also need resources from outside the village. All will depend on approval by the Parish Council who will have to decide priorities and how to implement the plans. The responsibilities of the Parish Council will not change but the impact of the Parish Plan will affect the council’s workload. Getting things to happen will need continuing support from the people of Rainow and the probable involvement of some of the existing Steering Group and Focal Group members under the leadership of the Parish Council.

A summary of the Parish Plan is being distributed to every household in Rainow. The full Parish Plan is available for everyone to read on this website and printed copies can also be viewed in Rainow Church, the Vicarage and each of the village pubs. Every Parish Councillor also has a copy which you can refer to.

The project team

To see a list of the volunteers who were involved in the Parish Plan project please click here…