NEIGHBOURS have been challenged to seize control of their communities and dictate how they are shaped by developers.
Community leaders came together last night to inform residents about the benefits of joining up to form a neighbourhood plan.
Areas in the UK where such legislation is already in place helps stipulate where new houses should go and protects plots of land from unfair and unsustainable development.
In Portsmouth, it could be the key to preventing and revising plans to build hundreds of homes on the St James’ Hospital site in Milton.
And Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt, speaking at a meeting over the concept at Stamshaw and Tipner Community Centre, said a neighbourhood plan could have stopped more homes being built in Drayton and Farlington.
Ms Mordaunt, who organised the event, said: ‘There has been a lot of interest in the city about how the council can get involved in offering help on a local level.
‘We have had a number of schemes across the city that people have been very concerned about.
‘I am interested in how we can raise the standard of development that goes on and give local people a stronger voice.’
A neighbourhood plan has already been created in Denmead and those who helped bring it to life gave a presentation about the steps they took.
The inspiration behind setting one up came after residents failed to stop developers building homes on fields they wanted to keep for sport use.
Peter Ambrose, chairman of the steering committee that established the plan, explained how it started by consulting residents on the things they liked and disliked about the village.
A draft plan was created, followed by six-weeks of consultation, scrutinised by Winchester City Council and now being examined by an independent assessor.
A referendum on whether the plan should be adopted is due to be held in either January or February next year. Mick Duggan, of the department for communities and local government, said communities spend thousands getting everything together, but grants are available and a local council has a legal duty to provide support.
An authority is given £30,000 to help contribute towards a plan.
Denmead councillor Patricia Stallard said it was vital residents gained the support of their councillor.