St Neots Town Council has confirmed that its Neighbourhood Plan was accepted by the St Neots community in a dedicated referendum that took place across the town yesterday (Thursday).
Huntingdonshire District Council who ran the election confirmed that 5217 votes were received during the polling period. Of those who voted, 4850 residents accepted the plan; resulting in a 93 per cent majority “yes” vote for the plan. 357 “no” votes were counted and 10 ballot papers were spoiled. Voter turnover at the polls on the day was 21.8 per cent.
With a majority “yes” result secured, all planning applications within St Neots will now be measured against the vision and objectives set out in the St Neots Neighbourhood Plan – a document which was created through consultation with local residents. Not only will this ensure that St Neots has greater control over planning policy, more money will now come into the town through an increase in the taxes placed upon new developments.
Speaking immediately after the count was announced in the early hours this morning, St Neots mayor James Corley said: “I am utterly delighted to see that our Neighbourhood Plan for St Neots can now be officially adopted. My fellow councillors and I, the staff team at St Neots Town Council and key community stakeholders have campaigned over recent weeks to highlight why this plan is so very important. The confirmed “yes” vote gives us a real opportunity to shape St Neots in the way the community want and need. It’s a great day for St Neots and we are so pleased to now take the plan to the next level; making our vision a reality.”
The question that was asked in the referendum was: “Do you want Huntingdonshire District Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for St Neots to help it decide on planning applications in the neighbourhood area?” A full online and offline marketing campaign in January engaged with residents across the town, communicating exactly what the plan meant for the town and to reiterate how important the vote was.
As an officially adopted document, the St Neots Neighbourhood Plan will now become part of local planning statute. St Neots Town Council will now work with partners at Huntingdonshire District Council to implement this.
An analysis of neighbourhood plan referendum results by The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) last year found stark differences in voter turnout for Neighbourhood Plan referendums, ranging from 11.2% to 68.7%. Figures from the first 52 referendums published by the department in February 2015 showed an average “yes” vote of 88 per cent.