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Devon and Oxfordshire neighbourhood plans approved in referendums

Residents in St James, Exeter and in Thame, Oxfordshire have voted in favour of their respective neighbourhood plans in referendums held last week.07 May 2013

The St James Exeter Neighbourhood Plan has been prepared by the Exeter St James Forum and sets out a vision for the St James area, which is located between the City Centre and the University of Exeter. 

The forum has said that one of its main objectives with the plan is to support Exeter City Council's desire to restrict homes in multiple occupation (HMO) developments and to encourage the "right development in the right place". The plan was approved by nearly 92% of voters. 

The Thame Neighbourhood Plan sets out a vision for Thame, including the construction of 775 homes, three hectares of new employment land and up to 5,700 square metres of new retail within the town centre. It also sets out potential locations for a new community facility, plans for new and improved connections in and around the town and new and improved open spaces.

 The plan was passed by 76% of voters. South Oxfordshire District Council said in a statement that it was "delighted that the community has endorsed all the hard work that was needed to achieve this milestone" and that it "looks forward to implementing the policies set out in the plan for the good of the community". 

“This is an excellent result and the networks and relationships formed throughout this process will go from strength to strength and the community spirit, which is a significant part of what Thame is, will continue in abundance as the plan is implemented,” said Thame Mayor Nigel Champken-Woods. 

The approvals follow the adoption of the Upper Eden Neighbourhood Plan last month as the first in the country. The news of last week's votes was welcomed by Planning Minister Nick Boles. 

"This is a fantastic result for people in Thame and Exeter," Boles said. These plans make bringing about the right type of housing for their communities a key priority and show how engaged people will be if given the chance to be in the driving seat for delivering new homes". 

"Three out of three plans have now been approved with neighbourhood planning powers proving to be a hit with people and a real draw for helping boost voter turnout. Neighbourhood planning is an incredibly important new right that provides a real opportunity to deliver the homes, shops and facilities people want," he added.