ALTON Town Council said it was pleased that the assessment of the draft neighbourhood plan for Alton, submitted to a government examiner last month, has now been completed and looks set to be put to a public vote early next year.

Having submitted the plan to East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) in mid-June, the second period of the six-week public consultation was completed and the plan submitted for further examination.

This was to ensure compliance with the neighbourhood planning regulations so that the document could be deemed fit to be submitted to a referendum. This means that with a majority public vote the plan will become statutory planning guidance at EHDC, which is based at Penns Place in Petersfield.

The independent examiner praised much of the plan’s content. He has, however, imposed a number of changes to the document, some of which are “quite extensive”.

These are mandatory for the plan to proceed and will be considered in detail by the steering group over the coming weeks.

In particular, the examiner has stated that the plan should show the full extent of housing developments in the south of Alton, which were granted outline planning permission between the date of the submission to the examiner and today.

This means that the plan has to reflect the current position, revising upward the housing number initially stated.

Once all the other comments and recommendations have been addressed by the steering group and EHDC, a referendum on the plan will be held for everyone living in Alton.

The vote is expected to take place toward the end of January.

Alton Town Council extended a “huge thank you” to the steering group and everyone involved in bringing the plan forward.

“Alton can be proud of bringing this plan to fruition in a very short time period with outstanding public engagement and clarity of definition,” said Mike Heelis, chairman of the Alton Neighbourhood Plan steering group.