An ‘historic day’ for Nuthurst saw the overwhelming majority of voters back its neighbourhood plan.
With a turnout of almost 50 per cent in the parish 625 people voted yes in last Thursday’s referendum, equating to 86.6 per cent, with 96 residents voting no.
The plan, which has taken two years to prepare, will now to go Horsham District Council for ratification and if approved will become a legal document, informing planning decisions in the parish over the next 15 years.
Nuthurst Parish Council hailed it as a ‘historic day’ for the area.
Valerie Court, chair of the parish council, expressed her delight that the people of the parish had so overwhelmingly supported the neighbourhood plan.
She added that she was ‘proud that Nuthurst had been the first in Horsham District Council’s area to reach referendum’.
Owen Hydes, chair of the Steering Committee, said that the neighbourhood plan had been ‘a hugely democratic exercise with lots of involvement by people in the parish all along the way’.
He continued that it was ‘good that the parish had taken control of its own future, rather than leaving it to others’.
The plan seeks to preserve the largely rural nature of the parish and provides for about 50 houses, grouped in small developments across the parish.
It particularly supports smaller houses to suit the pockets of first-time buyers and downsizers.
What it has sought to avoid is large developments that could put unacceptable strains on the primary school, roads, sewage and other infrastructure.
The plan has already gone through a public consultation process and examination by an independent inspector.
Roy Boulter, chairman of the Mannings Heath Action Group, added: “The result of this referendum is excellent news for our small community and follows over two years of hard work by the parish council and residents.
“Under the terms of the Localism Act, it should afford real protection against speculative development whilst providing properly agreed and identified sites for future housing.
“We must also recognise the help and support of Horsham District Council in enabling us to proceed to a successful referendum vote.”
Claire Vickers, HDC’s cabinet member for planning and development, said: “I am delighted that so many people from Nuthurst came out to support the first neighbourhood plan to have gone to referendum in our district since the 2011 Localism Act.
“The plan will now enable the people of Nuthurst to strongly influence how development will occur in their village.”
Voters were asked the question: “Do you want Horsham District Council to use the neighbourhood plan for Nuthurst parish to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”
Turnout was 46.91 per cent.
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