87% of Shaftesbury Voters backed the Shaftesbury Neighbourhood Plan in Thursday’s referendum.
A team of local volunteers drafted the document, which will guide future development until the year 2031. The policies were shaped following a substantial public consultation exercise, which included the use of a ‘pop-up’ information shop in the High Street.
Various policies inform planners of locals’ wishes. Strong local opinion called for the retention of land ringfenced for an eastern by-pass. And residents don’t want Shaftesbury’s slopes built on. Policies reflect residents’ feedback, and planners and developers will need to consider their proposals against these rules.
Since February 2018, the volunteers worked closely with Town Council business manager Brie Logan and Cllr John Lewer in researching and then fine-tuning the plan. “Local people have shown us that they agree that we’ve got it right,” says Cllr John Lewer.
Neighbourhood Plan committee member, Stuart Edwards, is excited that the plan has achieved one of the highest percentages of local support of any neighbourhood plan in England to date. But, like Cllr Lewer, he is realistic about its limitations. It can’t block development, but the policies must be considered in all new planning applications. “It won’t change everything. It’s limited in the scope of what it can do,” says Stuart. “But I think having a plan agreed and supported by so many people puts us in a much stronger position.”