The progress of the Morpeth Neighbourhood Plan (MNP) has taken a huge leap forward. The independent Examiner, Chris Collison, has recommended that, with some modifications to better align it with national planning policy guidance, it should go forward to a referendum.
The MNP defines settlement boundaries for Morpeth, Hepscott, Mitford, Hebron and Pegswood. It also addresses issues such as our valued heritage and environment and sets out policies to support the local economy, transport measures, leisure facilities and education provision. It is wide ranging, realistic yet aspirational, and, significantly, allows for sustainable growth and meets national planning policy requirements.
Bringing the MNP to fruition has been a major task led by Morpeth Town Council as the Qualifying Body, working in partnership with the surrounding Parish Councils of Hepscott, Mitford, Hebron and Pegswood and with significant contributions and involvement from members of the community.
Town Councillor Joan Tebbutt, Chair of the MNP Steering Group, says:
“The enormously complex and detailed work involved in preparing the Neighbourhood Plan has been much more demanding and daunting than any of us anticipated, since we were originally informed by government that neighbourhood planning was intended to be a “light touch “process.
“Residents of the Plan area are therefore hugely indebted to members of the Plan Preparation Group (PPG), who spent countless hours over many months drafting the plan, making amendments following two periods of public consultation and bringing the submitted documentation to a highly professional standard. The PPG was very ably led by Cllr Nic Best, and included Philip Ashmore, Ed Campbell, Simon Cox, Alan Jones, Peter Scott, Graeme Trotter, David Woodard and me. In addition we had significant support from our Planning Consultant Ian Campbell, and from County Council planning officers David English and David Rowlinson. I am immensely grateful to them all – and also to Cllr Ken Brown, my predecessor as Steering Group Chair – for their commitment to the process throughout the lengthy preparation period.
“I encourage the whole community to support the MNP when the Referendum takes place. It is very evident from what we see happening in Morpeth now, that what we desperately needed was a Plan, especially since the County Council’s new Local Plan for the county has not yet been finalised. Now we have a Plan for our immediate area, so please get behind it by voting ‘Yes’ in the referendum.”