Yes vote in groundbreaking referendum

By Richard Wright

Published on Friday, July 25, 2014 - 11:29


VILLAGERS have voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Bembridge Neighbourhood Development Plan which will now be part of Isle of Wight planning policy.

The number of votes cast was 1,330 — a turnout of 39.35 per cent — with 1,222 people, or 92 per cent, voting in favour of the plan being adopted.

The plan is the first to be adopted on the Island and is among the first in the whole country. None have so far been adopted in the whole of Hampshire.

Bembridge Parish Council and the Neighbourhood Plan Working Group issued a statement in which they said they were "extremely proud of the achievement, which has been two-and-a-half years in the making."

They said the fact that the turnout was so high — better than the General Election — gave the document real authority.

"Now the real work begins implementing the vision of the plan to maintain and enhance the unique self-contained character of Bembridge village whilst permitting small scale sustainable growth that is in line with the needs and wishes of the community," said working group chairman Alan Morris.

"The neighbourhood plan sits below the Island Plan Core Strategy Document with which it had to comply and the Isle of Wight Council has to take notice of it.

"In the past parish plans and village design statements could only advise the Isle of Wight Council of local priorities, but the authority did not have to comply with them," he added.

Mr Morris, of Mitten Road, has lived in the village for 40 years and said the value of a neighbourhood plan — part of the Localism Act of 2011 — was seized upon early in Bembridge.

Policies include supporting marine development, open spaces and affordable homes for younger families.

There was extensive publicity for the vote, including a van with a speaker playing a 'vote yes' message on referendum day, last Thursday.

The £20,000 cost of the referendum was funded by a government grant.

Executive member for planning Cllr Jonathan Bacon described the vote as a "major milestone" in Island planning policy.

To view the plan, click here.


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