AT the last full town council meeting members voted to approve the draft Haslemere Neighbourhood Plan to go forward for a final public consultation before being put to residents in a referendum.

Once agreed, it will become part of planning policy for the town, ensuring local priorities are taken into account by planners when determining future developments.

The hefty blueprint for a ‘shared vision’ – the product of six years of community consultation and evidence gathering – identifies four key objectives:

* To encourage development that meets the housing needs of the community but protects the character of the area – in particular to encourage development of more homes for young people, local workers and homes suitable for down-sizers.

* To protect and enrich the town’s green spaces and the surrounding countryside.

* To re-balance road use by providing more off-street parking and alternative forms of transport.

* To protect existing jobs and encourage a wider range of employment opportunities to boost the local economy.

Stewart Brown, chairman of the localism group Haslemere Vision, which has drawn up the neighbourhood plan, said: “During the six years of preparation, more than 80 Haslemere Vision volunteers working with a core group of town councillors have contributed thousands of hours of time and expertise to gather evidence and draft the plan.

“The six week consultation will take place as soon as possible after the May 2 council elections and will seek the views of residents, businesses, community organisations, surrounding parishes and statutory organisations.

“The plan will then be submitted to Waverley Borough Council which, after a final legal check, will submit it for approval by an independent planning inspector. Waverley will then put the plan to a local referendum.

“If 50 per cent or more of residents voting vote ‘Yes’ it will become part of planning policy.

“If more than 50 per cent of those voting vote ‘No’, there will be no neighbourhood plan for our area.”

Unanimously approving the draft document at the full Haslemere Town Council meeting, which was attended by Mr Brown and key helpers, committee members congratulated Haslemere Vision on a “very good plan”.

Town mayor David Round said: “Thanks to Stewart Brown and Haslemere Vision members, who have been labouring for six years, we have got a very good plan.

“A lot of work has gone into it and thanks should also go to town councillors Libby Piper and Melanie Odell.

“It would be nice if we proceeded with alacrity and benefit from the increased community infrastructure levy (CIL) that will be applied.

“It’s in our interest to get on so that the CIL money can roll in.”

Agreeing speed was of the essence, councillor Peter Isherwood, who is also Hindhead borough councillor, told the committee: “A neighbourhood plan is very much taken into account at every planning committee meeting.

Farnham Neighbourhood Plan has been adopted and is part of the regulations and a lot of weight is put on the plan and how Farnham wants things done.”