THINGS are looking good for South Marston's Neighbourhood Plan.

An information event about the plan was held in the village hall on Wednesday and councillors and residents were enthusiastic about the proposal.

A referendum is being held on Thursday October 5 to decide whether the plan will become an official planning document.

A leaflet explaining its benefits is being distributed to every resident.

If the majority of voters decide in its favour, it will give villagers' opinions on local housing developments more weight when planning applications are considered for approval.

More than a dozen residents visited the information event to look at the proposals and speak to parish councillors in the afternoon, then took part in a question and answer session that evening.

Colin McEwen, head of South Marston Parish Council, was optimistic for the plan's future.

He said: "People understand that a lot of work has been put in and there are distinct advantages to having a Neighbourhood Plan.

"The village recognises that it cannot stop the developments to the east of Swindon that are authorised by the borough, but we can influence how the houses are delivered.

"The plan gives the wishes of the village legal force when the applications are considered.

"Local people have already had a big input in the plan, we've had exhibitions and consultations and today is about taking any final queries they have before the referendum."

The plan will help councillors and residents deal with the increased traffic the extra housing will cause, retain the village's rural feel, create an integrated village with an attractive centre, tackle flood risks, and preserve the village's past.

The plan has been in the pipeline in some form or another since developers approached the village in 2006 to outline the New Eastern Villages development.

The effectiveness of Neighbourhood Plans has been called into question in recent months after Wroughton's plan didn't stop developers getting permission for more than 100 homes to be constructed on a site which residents did not want houses to be built on.

Colin added: "It would surprise me if we had a similar difficulty to what happened in Wroughton because all the known potential sites already have approval in the Local Plan either directly or through related policies.

"Now it's a question of how to guide these developments."

One long-term resident who has lived in the village for 27 years and was a member of the local leisure club for 40 years was in favour of the plan.

She said: "I'm completely for it, they have worked tirelessly on it over the years.

"It needs to happen."

Parish councillor Barry Thunder urged residents to have their say in the referendum.

He said: "I'm hopeful for a high turnout.

"I also hope people share the enthusiasm that we in the council have and can see the benefits of what we are trying to do."

Further details on the Neighbourhood Plan can be found at