February date set for referendum on vital plan

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

A vote on a set of policies that will help shape future developments and projects in Morpeth and most of its surrounding villages will take place next month.

The date for the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan (MNP) referendum is Thursday, February 25, it has been announced.

If a majority of residents vote in favour, it will form part of the Northumberland Local Plan and will be used to make decisions on planning applications in the parishes of Morpeth, Hebron, Hepscott, Mitford and Pegswood.

Morpeth Town Council, with support from parish councils in the villages and local residents, has put together sets of policies and community actions to support the local economy, transport measures, leisure facilities, heritage, the environment and education provision.

Members of the public were engaged and their comments were used to help shape the plan.

Town councillor Joan Tebbutt, chairman of the MNP steering group, said: “I am delighted that after all the hard work which has taken place, the referendum date has now been set.

“Since Morpeth, in particular, is under tremendous pressure from developers, it is essential that we have a plan in place to control where future development takes place and to protect the character of the area, its heritage and green environment.

“I hope that residents will support the plan at referendum.”

Independent examiner Chris Collison looked at the plan and said it satisfied all legal requirements, following a few amendments made in line with his recommendations.

Northumberland County Council also considers that the MNP meets the necessary legal requirements.

Coun Allan Hepple, cabinet member responsible for planning at the county council, said: “Neighbourhood planning is intended to give people a direct say in the future development of their area.”

The referendum will run in the same way as a local election, with all those eligible to vote receiving a polling card and the options of postal and proxy voting available to those who are registered.

New applications for postal voting must be received by February 10 – call 01670 624811 to get an application form sent to you.