Posted: 04.09.20 at 14:39 by Francesca Evans
The Neighbourhood Plan for for the village of Membury, near Axminster, has reached the final stages of adoption.
The Membury plan is one of two East Devon Neighbourhood Plans to move forward in recent weeks, with a referendum now being scheduled in Otterton next year for residents and businesses to have their say on the future development of the parish.
The Otterton poll will follow the successful referendum for the Membury Neighbourhood Plan, which was held in March and was approved by 81 per cent of those who voted.
Both plans have been developed over a number of years through the hard work and dedication of their respective parish councils’ neighbourhood plan steering groups. The plans sets out policies for the future of these areas to help inform decisions about land use and planning applications.
East Devon District Council has approved the Otterton plan as a robust and positive document and has recommended it to go forward for a referendum.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the referendum asking the parish to adopt the plan cannot be held until next year. However, as the district council has recommended the plan and it has been the subject of significant public consultation and an independent examination, the proposals now have significant weight in any decisions about development in the parish.
The leader of the Otterton Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, Ian Birch, said: “The fact that our village’s plan has reached this stage is very gratifying, and we’d like to thank everyone who contributed to its development over the last few years.
“The plan will help protect the village against inappropriate development, whilst encouraging activity which supports and enhances the wonderful natural environment of the area. We look forward to the referendum taking place in due course – although it’s disappointing that this may not be until next year, depending on the course of recovery from the current pandemic.”
Membury Neighbourhood Plan is the latest to reach the final stage of the plan making process and was formally adopted by the East Devon District Council in April.
Cllr Dan Ledger, the district council’s portfolio holder for strategic planning said: “I have to commend the steering groups of both Otterton and Membury for achieving these feats. A neighbourhood plan is a long and arduous process but one that has long lasting benefits to the community it serves.
“It gives weight to the voice of the community within planning policy and allows them to set out a positive vision of how they wish to see the community develop. With the fantastic news of Membury’s Neighbourhood Plan being made in April, I will now eagerly await the results of the Otterton referendum in 2021.”
East Devon currently has 18 adopted neighbourhood plans and a further 20 plans at various stages of development. Once adopted, neighbourhood plans form part of the suite of statutory development plan documents, together with the East Devon Local Plan.
The Otterton and Membury plans are available to view on the district council’s website, together with further information about neighbourhood planning across the district.
The district council is keen to continue supporting the progression of neighbourhood planning work as far as is possible in the current circumstances.
Parishes and groups needing help with neighbourhood plans can contact the council’s new neighbourhood planning officer Angela King through email at [email protected] or by calling 01395 571740.