The people of Masham are being offered the chance to be more closely involved in development decisions which affect their town.
Work has begun to develop a neighbourhood plan after Masham was designated as a 'neighbourhood area' by Harrogate Borough Council. It is part of the government’s localism agenda which gives residents the opportunity to shape where development takes place.
A neighbourhood plan isn't a way of stopping development or refusing planning permission, but it does allow people to have greater influence over issues which affect them. That could include where new homes go or employment sites are created, what new development looks like and what infrastructure may be required to support it.
In Masham, the work to develop the neighbourhood plan is being led by the parish council which is calling for residents and businesses to be involved.
Its application for neighbourhood area designation was formally approved by Harrogate Borough Council in August. It covers the whole of the parish council's area of responsibility.
Masham isn't the first area in the district to start work on neighbourhood plans. Others are being prepared for Ripon, Knaresborough, Pannal and Spofforth.
Councillor Rebecca Burnett, cabinet member with responsibility for planning, said:
"Neighbourhood plans are a great way for local communities to have more of a say in how future development affects them. While a neighbourhood plan can't block development, or be used to refuse planning permission, it can set stricter guidelines for new homes or extra employment sites. For that reason, I encourage people in Masham to support the work being led by the parish council."