TRIBUTES have been paid to the many volunteers who spent countless hours working on the Haslemere Neighbourhood Plan.

Almost 2,400 people voted in favour of the plan in last Thursday’s referendum (October 7). The 87 per cent ’yes’ vote means the plan must be adopted as local planning policy by Waverley Borough Council.

The plan, which has been almost a decade in the making, was led by voluntary group Haslemere Vision with support from Haslemere Town Council.

And special tributes have been paid to former Vision chairman Stuart Brown for all his work on the plan.

Haslemere Vision vice-chairwoman Liz Burton said: "Stuart was chairman right from the beginning and was an absolute tower. We couldn’t have had a better chairman."

Haslemere town councillor Nikki Barton, who was one of the Vision’s ’founding three’, added: "Stuart was chairman through some really tough, challenging times and led with such professionalism."

Haslemere Vision has been a community effort over the past decade, with some 80 volunteers giving up their time to make their contributions.

Liz added: "It is easy for people to dismiss these documents as just another sort of political policy, but it’s obviously been a real community effort.

"You couldn’t organise that sort of skill set, unless it’s voluntary and community led.

"We couldn’t have paid for an economist, an architect and a town planner. You can’t get that sort of expertise in a room unless you do it for free.

"I’m hoping for a ripple effect, because look how many more people this has drawn into activism that maybe wouldn’t have been involved."

Waverley Borough Council leader Cllr Paul Follows also paid tribute to the work of Haslemere Vision.

He said: "That was a pretty emphatic ’yes’ vote for the neighbourhood plan.

"I think it justifies ten years’-plus of work for that group.

"And I think it shows the direction Haslemere want us to go in, in the near future, too.

"Haslemere Vision needs to be absolutely, ecstatically proud with themselves.

"Nobody realises how much effort it takes.

"They’ve been working at this for years, and it’s all over in one moment, thankfully, in the right direction.

"They’ve done a really great job and the ’yes’ was so emphatic there’s no doubt of the way Haslemere feels about this."