January 11, 2018
Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge referendum for Neighbourhood Plan

A referendum is set to be held in Burnham-On-Sea and Highbridge later this year when residents will be given a chance to have their say on whether a new Neighbourhood Plan is adopted.

The document has been compiled over the last three years by local groups and residents to outline how future housing needs and development should proceed in Burnham-On-Sea, Highbridge and the parish of Burnham Without.

"The purpose of the Plan is to guide and shape development in the two towns in the future," town councillor Phil Harvey, pictured, told, who oversaw compiling the document.

"The plan addresses several points - for Burnham, these include retaining the viability of our town in the face of retail pressures, retaining the town's Victorian character, and ensuring it is suitable to visitors."

"For Highbridge, the Plan considers how to halt the perceived decline of the town centre which some see as 'past its best and struggling'. Many residents are concerned that things have been done to the town, rather than with the involvement of residents."

He added that if Highbridge gets 1,300 new homes over the coming years that "Market Street's shops may no longer be able to serve that bigger population."

Cllr Harvey added: "Following the recent round of formal consultation, 17 comments were received, most of which were supportive or made minor suggestions."

"Three were received from developers promoting their sites in the plan area and saying that these should have been identified in the NP."

"They also made some points about the suggested housing policies. The site suggestions have also been made to the Inspector who is dealing with the local plan and will be the subject of a session on Wednesday (17th January) at the Local Plan Inquiry. This is being held at the YMCA in Bridgwater and the session runs from 10am to 1pm."

"In light of this, we decided it would be useful to get a feel from the district local plan inspector as to the site suggestions, which may act as an indicator as to the attitude of the Neighbourhood Plan examiner."

"By the end of March we should have a good idea of the way the wind is blowing so, provisionally, we have agreed to seek an examiner for the NP at that time. We think it will be a fairly straightforward process and don't think it likely that the examiner will want to hold any public sessions."

"If we're correct, the revised - and final - version should be available by the late summer and, if that is so, the referendum could be he held in September/October, after which the Neighbourhood Plan comes into force, assuming it is approved."

The plan has been compiled with the involvement of local residents and groups, including the Town Council, Sedgemoor District Council and Burnham-On-Sea Chamber of Trade. It is available here.


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