Plan will go forward to referendum stage

Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.
Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.

A referendum on a set of policies that will help shape future developments and projects in Morpeth and most of its surrounding villages has been confirmed.

Northumberland County Council has approved the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan (MNP) and the poll is now expected to be held early next year.

This is the final step in the process that started back in 2012.

The plan was submitted for independent examination in June and in September, examiner Chris Collison published his report recommending that, with a number of relatively minor modifications, the MNP met the necessary regulatory requirements and could go forward to referendum.

The county council has now made these modifications and the slightly amended document will be put before the public.

Town councillor Joan Tebbutt, chair of the neighbourhood plan steering group said: “Our neighbourhood plan has cleared all the planning hurdles and we all need to demonstrate community support for it through a referendum.

“Everyone on the electoral register who lives in the plan area will be able to vote and if more than half of those who turn out on the day vote Yes, the MNP will be adopted.

“Therefore, I urge residents to make sure you are on the electoral register and look out for information about the referendum.”

The document sets out policies and community actions to support the local economy, transport measures, leisure facilities, heritage, the environment and education provision.

It also defines settlement boundaries for the plan area of Morpeth, Hebron, Hepscott, Mitford and Pegswood.

It was put together by a steering group – led by Morpeth Town Council – following public consultation periods.

The aim of the group was to produce a wide-ranging, yet aspirational plan that allows for sustainable growth and meets national planning requirements.

If adopted, the MNP will be used to help determine all planning bids in the plan area through to 2031.

County council planning officers are already giving the document weight when making recommendations about applications because it has passed independent examination.