Joy as big majority back neighbourhood plan in referendum vote

Some of the people who helped to produce the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan celebrate the referendum result.
Some of the people who helped to produce the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan celebrate the referendum result.

There were cheers at County Hall this morning in reaction to the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan (MNP) referendum landslide result.

Following the counting process, deputy counting officer Will Booth announced that 4,099 people voted ‘Yes’ and 283 voted ‘No’.

The MNP will now be a very important factor to consider when Northumberland County Council makes decisions on planning applications in the Morpeth Town Council area and the parishes of Hebron, Hepscott, Mitford and Pegswood.

There were 4,388 votes in total – which meant that 93.4 per cent were in favour of the plan – and there was an electorate of 14,984. The turnout was 29.5 per cent.

Dozens of residents were involved in putting together the policies and actions for the plan. The topics included housing, employment, the environment, leisure, heritage and transport.

It is the second neighbourhood plan in Northumberland (the first was Allendale) to be adopted following a referendum.

Joan Tebbutt, chair of the MNP steering group, said: “I’m over the moon with the response of residents from the plan area.

“It’s a wonderful outcome and I’m very grateful to everyone who voted for it as well as all those who got involved with this important work, including the people who were there right from the beginning of the process. Thank you.

“Morpeth and the other parts of the plan area have suffered for too long from a planning policy vacuum.

“We’re not going to have a county-wide plan in place until late 2017, which is largely down to the changes in local government and changes in national planning policy.

“Therefore, the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan is vital to protect our area from inappropriate and excessive development.”

She added that the steering group would like to thank the businesses and organisations that supported the MNP, including the Herald.

Five of the votes were deemed to be unmarked or void for uncertainty and one had writing or a mark on it by which the voter/proxy could be identified.