Residents of Sale Moor in Greater Manchester were faced in 2016 with important decisions about the village’s future. With a population of just under 10,000, Sale Moor remained a small village where the vast majority of businesses were independently owned. Efforts by a developer to purchase a large plot of land in the centre of the village to sell to a supermarket chain raised important questions about the future of the village’s economy and the rights of local residents to shape that future.
Supported by Voluntary and Community Action Trafford (VCAT), in early 2016 residents formed a Neighbourhood Forum, called We Are Sale Moor, in order to represent the community’s interests in discussions regarding future development. Under the Localism Act of 2011, Neighbour Fora have the authority to create Neighbourhood Plans that, if passed in a referendum, become legally binding and shape local planning decisions. The Forum wanted to consult residents, traders and shoppers on its Neighbourhood Plan in a way that was inclusive.
In partnership with VCAT, the team supported We Are Sale Moor in creating a socially inclusive Neighbourhood Plan by collecting, synthesising and communicating the views of groups less likely to be included in consultation processes, namely children, young people, older people and carers. By systematically engaging and communicating the views of members of these groups, the project provided We Are Sale Moor with the research expertise to ensure the Plan was sensitive to the hopes, aspirations and lived realities of all parts of the community.
The project team provided two reports, one for the Forum’s Management Committee and one written in Plain English for Sale Moor village’s residents, traders and shoppers, communicating the views of the groups consulted on the village’s future. findings from the report were included in the Neighbourhood Plan.
Laura Fenton, PhD Candidate in Sociology, University of Manchester. Laura is an experienced qualitative researcher who has contributed to several research projects, most recently Understanding Everyday Participation and Step-Change. Laura has published sole and co-authored articles and reviews in a number of health policy and social science journals, including Space and Culture, Women’s History Review, and Discover Society.