March Town Council urges ‘Yes’ vote to referendum poll on September 7 that could give local people greater say on community planning

A Day Above Cambridgeshire, a book of aerial photographs. featured March. The book was publiished by

A Day Above Cambridgeshire, a book of aerial photographs. featured March. The book was publiished by Zodiac - Credit: Archant

March is going to the polls on September 7 in an important exercise in local democracy.

Ballot papers are being circulated to remind people to use their vote – and show support for – greater influence at local level on how the town grows.

If the referendum supports the neighbourhood plan it will be adopted by the town council and give “significant material weight” to future planning applications.

Town clerk Clive Lemmon said: “March Town Council believes that the referendum should not be taken for granted. “The council is urging the community to support the plan now that it has reached the final stage in the neighbourhood planning process.”

The referendum is the outcome of proposals first spotlighted in 2012 under the Localism banner; the Government introduced legislation to give communities more control in shaping the future of the places where they live and work.

They did this in the form of neighbourhood plans, which are prepared entirely by qualifying bodies such as town and parish councils.

Mr Lemmon said: “This is a significant change from the traditional plan-making approach which, up until that point, was the sole responsibility of the council’s local planning authority.”

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He said the optional approach of communities such as March being given afforded a “greater weight” in terms of planning decisions was one the town council felt was right.

He said town council was anxious to ensure that the process was community led from start to finish and have adhered to the project strap line of “March Town Plan by March Town People”.

He said this was evident from the length of time it has taken to reach this key stage, having followed a number of important plan-making stages.

This included a town wide survey that went to every household and business at the start of the process in November 2013.

The final report covers large scale housing, shopping, regeneration and open spaces

If the plan is supported by the community, it will be adopted by the council and form part of the statutory development plan, carrying significant material weight in the determination of planning applications in March.

Mr Lemmon said the vote was “the final milestone” in securing a neighbourhood plan.