Residents of Winslow in Buckinghamshire yesterday voted overwhelmingly in favour of the town’s neighbourhood plan being used to help decide planning applications.
According to local planning authority Aylesbury Vale District Council, a total of 2,270 people voted ‘yes’ and 41 voted ‘no’, an endorsement of 98 per cent. The turnout was 59.5 per cent, marginally the highest of any neighbourhood plan referendum so far.
Prepared by Winslow Town Council, the plan allocates five sites for 455 new homes up to 2031, more than five hectares of employment land, plus educational and community facilities.
On Tuesday, housebuilder Gladman Developments was refused permission by the High Court for an injunction to prevent a vote on the Winslow neighbourhood plan.
However, the firm is also seeking permission for a judicial review to overturn Aylesbury Vale Council’s decision to allow the plan to proceed to referendum.
Gladman is the applicant in two outstanding planning appeals, for 211 homes and 100 homes, relating to land in the Winslow neighbourhood plan area but outside the sites allocated in the document.
Llew Monger, town and district councillor and chairman of the neighbourhood plan steering group, said "We expected to get a ‘yes’ vote, but nothing like that proportion.
"We obviously look forward to the district council making the plan but we are well aware we still have a mountain to climb with Gladman seeking an injunction."
"This is evidence that if communities plan positively, they can deliver a neighbourhood plan that offers substantial growth - 35 per cent growth – but the community endorsed it by a staggering margin.
"Neighbourhood plans are not ‘nimbyism’, they are localism at work."
The neighbourhood plan passed examination in June. The examination had been due to take place in February, but was delayed by the examiner Nigel McGurk after a legal objection from Gladman.
It was restarted by McGurk in April after the publication of the government’s Planning Practice Guidance was felt to have resolved the issues of contention.
More details on the plan can be found here.