Council bids to pick priorities

A NEW council committee has been formed as efforts to determine Morpeth’s planning priorities get under way.

Earlier this year, the town was selected as a pilot area to use new neighbourhood planning powers introduced in the Localism Act.

This allows the community — residents, businesses and landowners — to have an input as to where development should go, along with the type and design that would be acceptable.

Morpeth Town Council is leading the project and at a recent meeting of the authority, members agreed to establish a Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group that will involve some of its councillors.

It will have delegated powers to prepare a neighbourhood plan for endorsement by the full council.

Coun Nic Best, one of the group’s members, said: “This is a provisional structure at the moment until we know if any other councils will be coming on board to be part of the process.

“There will also be some circumstances where it will be useful for town and county councillors Andrew Tebbutt and Ian Lindley to attend group meetings.”

The project will be given about £20,000 and it will include surveys and consultation events. When the final Morpeth plan is drawn up, which should happen during the 2013/14 financial year, there will be a referendum for people to say whether it should be adopted.

If approved, it would have to be considered as part of any planning decisions by Northumberland County Council.

Members also approved the recommendation to stand down the current Town Plan Steering Group and transfer its scrutiny powers to individual committees.