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The referendum will ask you to vote yes or no to a question. For this referendum, you will receive a ballot paper with this question:
Do you want Colchester Borough Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for West Mersea to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?
The referendum area is shown on a map in the Information Statement for the West Mersea Neighbourhood Plan.
You show your choice by putting a cross (X) in the “Yes” or “No” box on your ballot paper. Put a cross in only ONE box or your vote will not be counted. If the majority of residents vote in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan, it will be adopted. If it is rejected, the Plan will not be adopted.
If adopted, the Neighbourhood Plan will become part of the Development Plan.
The planning system in the UK manages the use and development of land and buildings. The planning system has two main parts to it:
Colchester Borough Council is responsible for deciding the majority of development proposals within its administrative area.
Decisions on planning applications are based on national planning policy guidance, the Local Plan (including the Local Plan and other Development Plan Documents and Supplementary Planning Documents) and any relevant Neighbourhood Plan.
The National Planning Policy Framework was first published on 27th March 2012. The revised National Planning Policy Framework was updated on 20 July 2021. This revised Framework replaces the pervious National Planning Policy Framework published in March 2012 and revised in July 2018 and in February 2019.
The Framework gives guidance to local councils in drawing up local plans and on making decisions on planning applications. It includes a presumption in favour of sustainable development.
Local Plans must be prepared with the objective of contributing to the achievement of sustainable development. They must be positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy in accordance with the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (as amended) and the National Planning Policy Framework.
The Adopted Plan for Colchester consists of the Colchester Local Plan Section 1 – North Essex Shared Strategic Section 1 Plan 2013-2033 (adopted in February 2021); and the Core Strategy 2008 (updated in 2014 as part of a Focused Review), Site Allocations (adopted in 2010), Development Policies DPDs (adopted in 2010) and the Proposals Map.
Work commenced on the preparation of the new Colchester Local Plan 2017-2033 in 2014 and the emerging Local Plan was submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in October 2017. The submitted emerging Local Plan includes the Shared Strategic Section 1 (with Braintree and Tendring District Councils) and a Section 2 Local Plan which includes Colchester specific policies and allocations. The Section 1 Local Plan was adopted in February 2021. The Section 2 Local Plan is currently subject to Examination with hearing sessions held for a two-week period in April 2021. The Council are currently awaiting the Final Report from the Inspector following a six-week public consultation (concluding
November 2021) on the Main Modifications considered necessary to make the Plan sound.
The policies set out in these plans will be used for decision making purposes (along with national planning guidance and any relevant neighbourhood plans).
Find out more information regarding the Colchester Local Plan
Neighbourhood planning was introduced under the Localism Act 2011 to give members of the community a more “hands on” role in the planning of their neighbourhoods.
Parish Councils or Neighbourhood Forums (community groups that are designated to take forward neighbourhood planning in areas without parishes) can now use neighbourhood planning powers to establish general planning policies for the development and use of land through the preparation of a neighbourhood plan (sometimes referred to legally as ‘neighbourhood development plans’).
The plan must be prepared through a process of consultation with local residents before an independent Examiner reviews the plan. The legislation, however, sets out that neighbourhood plans have to meet a number of ‘Basic Conditions’ to ensure they are legally compliant and take account of wider policy considerations.
The Basic Conditions are that the Plan must:
An examiner will need to be satisfied that a Neighbourhood Plan meets these conditions before it can be voted on in a local referendum.
This is to make sure that referendums only take place when proposals are workable and of a decent quality. If more than half of those voting in a referendum have voted in favour of the Neighbourhood Plan, the Local Planning Authority must make it part of the statutory Development Plan and use it when making decisions on planning applications in the Plan Area.
The West Mersea Neighbourhood Plan has been produced by the West Mersea Neighbourhood Plan Group which has been set up by West Mersea Town Council. The steering group consisted of members of the community and representatives from West Mersea Town Council.
The Neighbourhood Plan contains a vision of how West Mersea will be by 2033, objectives and a set of policies. The Neighbourhood Plan has been produced in accordance with the statutory requirements and following extensive public consultation with residents and key stakeholders over a number of years and a recent independent examination.
The Plan has, subject to minor modifications been recommended to proceed to referendum.
Hard copies may also be inspected at Colchester Town Hall, High Street, Colchester between the hours of 9am and 4 pm, Mondays to Fridays.
View the Neighbourhood Plan
Find out more about the West Mersea Neighbourhood plan on our elections page