Residents from all sections of the community are being urged to play an active role in creating Otley’s Neighbourhood Plan.
The town is one of four pilot areas in Leeds to have gained £20,000 to draw up plans that will influence what kinds of homes, shops, offices and leisure facilities it gets in coming years.
Otley Town Council’s planning committee chairman, Councillor Mike Evans (Lab, Manor), says it is vital the scheme is community-driven, and that means getting as wide a cross-section of people as possible to work on it.
He said: “This is a great opportunity for the whole town, and if we are to succeed we need to work together with local businesses, landowners, developers and schools, as well as working with volunteers from all sections of our community.
“The town council cannot, and should not, develop the Neighbourhood Plan on its own and we want to involve as many local residents as possible.
“I know we have the skills and enthusiasm within the town to make neighbourhood planning a success.”
Adopted neighbourhood plans can’t be used to actually block development but developers have to show they have taken the preferences of the community, as expressed in the proposals, into consideration before submitting schemes.
Coun Evans added: “The hope is the Neighbourhood Plan will bring the community together to share ideas and build consensus about needs and priorities.
“The plan is important for everyone. Otley residents must vote at a referendum to adopt it, and if people vote in favour it will then become a legal document whereby any decisions on future planning applications will be required to be made in accordance with the plan.”
The council wants to hear from anyone interested in contributing to the project, especially volunteers with project management, data management and market research skills.
Anybody interested should contact the town council’s executive officer, Suzanne Kidger, as soon as possible by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (01943) 466335.
More about the plan will appear on the council’s website, otleytowncouncil.gov.uk, and noticeboard in the coming weeks.