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Neighbourhood Plan Referendum confusion

Published: 19/06/2018 6:50 PM

With just two days left until the Neighbourhood Plan referendum it appears a number of villagers remain oblivious as to what the vote is about. Adderbury News has spoken to individuals confused as to what they are being asked to vote for. Last week one posed the question on our Facebook page asking, “Where can we see what it is we are voting for”. Voter fatigue could also affect the results with another writing that he had “never known a village to have so many votes”.

Those who have been working on the Neighbourhood Plan are aware that they need over 50% of those voting to select “yes” in order for the Plan to become officially accepted in law. There is no restriction on a minimum number of votes cast and therefore if only three people vote and two of them vote “no” the Neighbourhood Plan will be thrown out.

This is the background to Adderbury’s Neighbourhood Plan.

What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

Neighbourhood Plans were introduced by the government in 2011. A Neighbourhood Plan gives villages like Adderbury the chance to note in an official document how they want their community to develop over the coming years. The completed document has to be accepted in a public referendum before becoming part of the council’s (Cherwell’s) Local Plan. It will then be used to help when deciding whether planning applications should be allowed or rejected.

Adderbury’s Neighbourhood Plan history

Work began on the first version of Adderbury’s Neighbourhood Plan over six years ago. That version was created by a team led by Parish Councillors Tony Gill and Colin Astley but was shelved in the autumn of 2015 following advice from an external consultant who felt it was not “robust and fit for purpose”. A new team led by Sam Brown of Berry Hill Road and comprising Parish Councillors and villagers began work on the current version of the plan. Mrs Brown’s team have been supported by an external specialist who has successfully helped produce a number of Neighbourhood Plans for other communities.

What question will voters be asked on Thursday

“Do you want Cherwell District Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Adderbury to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”

Where can you find out what is in Adderbury’s Neighbourhood Plan

You can read the full plan here. The June edition of “Contact” also contained more details.

What happens if a “yes” vote wins?

Nick Fennell has been part of the team working on the plan. Mr Fennell said, “A yes vote will ensure that Cherwell District Council (who have already approved the plan) have to be guided by the plan. The key parts … are a) the line drawn around the current residential boundary outside of which cannot be developed and b) the defined gaps to be retained between us and Bodicote and us and Milton”.

What happens if a “no” vote wins?

Sam Brown, Chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan team, said, “I believe that a ‘no’ vote on this referendum would play into the hands of the developers”. However a small number of villagers appear to be willing to take this risk and are pushing for a “no” vote. Articles published by the anonymous author of a personal blog website questions the robustness of Adderbury’s Plan and suggests voting “no” so it can be rewritten. Others question this view and ask whether the real reason for supporting a “no” vote is simply the opportunity to try to derail plans for sports pitches and a community facility on the Parish Council owned Milton Road field which the author is known to oppose.

The Neighbourhood Plan referendum takes place in the Methodist School Room from 7am until 10pm this Thursday (June 21, 2018).

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