The neighbourhood plan for Stoke Upon Tern was backed by residents in a referendum earlier this year, meaning Shropshire Council must now grant approval for it to form part of the statutory development plan for the area.
Councillors will this week be asked to agree to the adoption of the plan, which is intended to support and build on the council’s current development plan and its new local plan – which will go before members at the same meeting for approval to be sent for government examination.
It is only the fourth completed neighbourhood plan in the county to come forward for adoption, following those for Much Wenlock, Shifnal and Woore, with several others in development.
The neighbourhood plan has been drawn up by a steering group of parish councillors and local volunteers, with support from a planning consultant commissioned by Shropshire Council.
The process began in 2015 when Shropshire Council agreed that the parish was an appropriate area to be the subject of a neighbourhood plan.
Since then the emerging plan has undergone several stages of public consultation and was signed off by an independent examiner in 2019 ahead of the referendum in May this year.
A report to councillors, Mark Barrow, the council's director of place, says there was a “significant delay” in calling the referendum as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The poll saw 87.54 per cent of voters declare their support for the plan, from a turnout of 329.
The law requires that the planning authority must adopt a neighbourhood plan if it is supported by more than 50 per cent of voters in a referendum.
Mr Barrow’s report says: “Subject to council’s decision, the Stoke upon Tern Neighbourhood Plan will become part of the statutory planning framework applied in Shropshire.
“The neighbourhood plan contains a range of locally produced policies which the community have expressly asked to be brought into play to help guide the decision making process.
“Statute provides that planning applications should be determined in accordance with the provisions of the neighbourhood plan policies unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
“The plan has been prepared positively by the steering group and, in its final format is considered to meet the required basic conditions.
“Following the successful referendum result it is considered there is also clear and overwhelming public support for the neighbourhood plan.”
The neighbourhood plan contains a range of policies supporting thing like the delivery of affordable housing, rural diversification and new sports provision, as well as design aspirations for new developments.
It does not allocate the Clive Barracks at Tern Hill as a site for development, though it is put forward as a new ‘strategic settlement’ in the Shropshire Council’s local plan review.
Mr Barrow says there “is considered to be no conflict between the two plans in this regard”.
Mr Barrow recommends the adoption of the plan. Councillors will vote on the report at a meeting on Thursday, at Theatre Severn.