Votes have been cast, counted and verified this week in the first referendums of their kind in West Lindsey.
Eager local residents were at the polls in Caistor and Nettleham on Thursday, 28th January to decide whether to adopt a new type of planning document, produced by the local community, known as a Neighbourhood Development Plan.
In Nettleham the plan was overwhelmingly supported with 41.25 per cent of the electorate voting and an impressive 91.08 per cent giving their support for the plan.
The Chairman of Nettleham Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee welcomed the result as a very positive step for the village in ensuring that local people will have greater involvement and control over the future of the village. Mr. John Evans said:
“I’m Euphoric as this is the result of four years of hard work. I am delighted it has got such a strong endorsement from the community. It validates all the hard work put in by the neighbourhood planning team.”
Further north in Caistor residents of the Market Town were equally as determined to show play their part in local decision making. The Caistor Neighbourhood Plan also gained strong support with 74 per cent of all votes cast in favour of the plan.
Responding to news of the plans successful result Caistor Town and West Lindsey District Councillor, Mrs. Angela Lawrence said:
“I’m absolutely delighted that all the hard work that the volunteer steering group and the way it has been received by the community. Caistor now has a robust plan to take us forward. I would like to thank everyone for turning out to vote.”
Clerk of Caistor Town Council, Helen Pittman said:
“It is a great result for Caistor. It shows people believe in this plan. I would like to thank everyone for their work developing the plan and for voting.”
Referendum results were announced by the deputy returning officer of West Lindsey District Council, Celia Chapman, following the counts on Friday morning. Neighbourhood plans are considered to have been approved at referendum if more than 50% of the votes cast support adoption of the document.
Both plans will now be set before members of WLDC for formal adoption at the next full council meeting on 3 March, following which the two plans will become statutory documents. Leader of West Lindsey District Council Cllr. Jeff Summers added:
“The election results this week reflect the hard work that local communities have put into their plans.
“The council and my officers are proud to have supported the neighbourhood plan groups in reaching these commendable milestones.
“It is fantastic that plans that have been written by the community, for the community, have gained strong local support and will now be used to shape future growth and development.
“I would definitely encourage any communities that have not yet considered producing this kind of plan to contact the council to find out more about the free support we can offer”.
The documents now carry a formal status in determining planning applications. They will be used as part of the decision making process when applications are made to the council.
Nationally interest in neighbourhood plans is growing rapidly with strong support being provided by central government. Currently more than 20 other towns and villages are in various stages of developing neighbourhood plans in West Lindsey alone.
Funding is available to assist local community groups and parish councils in developing their plans, with technical support and guidance available from the local authority.
Common issues covered in neighbourhood plans include investigating local housing needs, identifying sites for affordable or self-build homes, deciding what new infrastructure is needed in future and protecting important open space.
Neighbourhood plans must be produced in accordance with national guidance and once complete are subject to independent examination to ensure they are fit for purpose.
Once adopted the plans form part of the local development plan and will be used along-side the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan which is expected to be adopted by the end of this year.