THE villagers of Acomb have voted to implement its neighbourhood plan.

In the same week that Hexham revealed it is ready to submit its plan to Northumberland County Council, the Acomb Neighbourhood Plan was approved by residents during a local referendum.

With a turnout of 19.6 per cent of eligible voters, 173 votes were in favour of adopting the plan. There were just 13 votes against the document.

The approval of the plan will allow the parish of Acomb to have more say on planning applications and advise on the area’s housing needs.

Norman Robson, the chairman of the steering committee formed by Acomb Parish Council, said he was delighted with the result.

He said: “The turnout was much greater than we thought it was going to be, so we are delighted with it.

“The result was decisive, and it is now a statuary document which gives us a bit of control.

“The steering committee has been working on this for three years and it has done a great job.”

Acomb Parish Council chairman Charles Enderby echoed those sentiments and paid particular thanks to Mr Robson and Jane Wrigley who spearheaded the plan.

He also thanked fellow councillors Bill Grigg, Matilda Bevan, Lorna Farr and Rachel Gagliano and Trevor Cessford, Chris Anderson, David English and Jenny Ludman from the county council.

Hexham Town Council is hoping for a similar turnout when it submits its draft plan.

In a presentation to the town council this week, steering group chairman Dave Clegg said that, after four years, the plan was ready for the next stage to be scrutinised by an independent examiner. Subsequently, a referendum would be held to decide whether it was implemented

Mr Clegg said: “In the first stage of consultation, we had consulted significantly and there were very positive responses to the plan from the 500 responses we received.

“From our consultation, 95 per cent did support it so we can be very optimistic about it being approved. We have to prove it is a community-led plan an it is not just the steering group’s imagination or the town council’s plan, and I am confident we have shown that.”

Members of the town council were grateful to the steering group for its work, so far, particularly after it had hit numerous setbacks since starting out in 2014.

Cath Homer, Northumberland County Councillor for Hexham East, said: “I remember four years ago when Dave took it on and you have seen it through even though you are no longer a town councillor and we owe you a huge thanks.”