Referendum possible for local parish plan
A referendum is to be called to gauge public support for a new development plan for a parish near Shrewsbury.
Shropshire Council’s cabinet is expected to give the go-ahead next week for the Pontesbury neighbourhood plan to proceed to a public vote.
If a majority of voters support the document, the full council will be asked at a future meeting to adopt it as part of the statutory development plan for the area.
It would make Pontesbury only the sixth community in the county with an adopted neighbourhood plan.
The area covered by the plan takes in the whole civil parish of Pontesbury, incuding the village itself and other settlements including Pontesford, Plealey, Cruckton, Asterley and Habberley.
The plan builds on Shropshire Council’s own local development plan with more detailed policies specific to the parish, but does not allocate any new housing sites.
Once adopted, it must be taken into account when any future planning applications are considered.
A report to cabinet by director of place, Mark Barrow, says there is agreement that it is in “broad conformity” with the council’s overarching local plan and recommends it be put to a referendum.
The parish council first revealed its intention to start the process in 2016 when it asked Shropshire Council to formally designate the ‘neighbourhood area’ covered by the plan, which it did following a public consultation.
Since then, the parish council has worked with a ‘steering group’ of local volunteers to compile the document.
Mr Barrow’s report says: “It is acknowledged that from an early point in this process the steering group provided positive opportunities for the local community to have their say in the vision and objectives of the plan through a range of means, including public meetings, information on the website and community questionnaires throughout the process.”
The parish council carried out a formal consultation into an early draft of the plan at the beginning of last year, and submitted an amended version to Shropshire Council in October.
Another consultation followed, after which the authority appointed neighbourhood planning consultant Tony Burton to carry out the examination of the plan.
The report to cabinet says Mr Burton has now judged that the plan meets the required legal conditions, subject to a series of modifications.
Mr Barrow concludes: “Further to the outcomes of the examiner’s report into the Pontesbury neighbourhood development plan, it is recommended that all the necessary modifications are agreed and that the final version of the plan proceed to local referendum.”
If cabinet agrees, the referendum will be held on a day between August 31 and October 1 this year.