COMMUNITIES in Burnham and Highbridge are set to benefit from £20,000 towards a plan for the area after volunteers stepped forward to secure the cash.

As reported in the Weekly News, the money from the Government’s Pathfinder funding was given to the towns months ago to allow work to begin on a ‘neighbourhood plan’.

Sedgemoor District Council was preparing to allocate the cash to another area if a 'steering group' could not be set up to get the project started by March.

But at a meeting on Monday, Burnham and Highbridge Town Council voted to go ahead with the scheme after around 20 volunteers came forward to form the steering group.

Phil Harvey, town councillor for Burnham East ward, said: “We held a meeting on Thursday evening which went really well; considering we had not sent out leaflets to residents, we had a good turnout.

"There were a lot of questions and we went through the process of putting forward a neighbourhood plan and the plusses and minuses of such a scheme.

"All except one person, who chose not to vote, were in favour of pushing this ahead. Sedgemoor's patience was wearing thin so it was time we made a decision.

"After the application for the plan is submitted to SDC, then we will be looking for even more enthusiastic volunteers to get involved and suggest ideas for each area."

Cllr Helen Groves, town councillor for Highbridge Ward, said: "A range of issues and concerns were raised but primarily there were deep concerns that the development of a plan should be inclusive of all sectors of community, that costs should be kept under tight control (which is also a significant concern of councillors) and that the development of a plan should not employ the use of costly consultants; though it was accepted there could be a need for some legal advice.

"It was very clear people felt strongly that a neighbourhood plan should not seek to prevent development but should be a tool to enable good development that would be welcomed and supported by the community."

The neighbourhood development plan will allow residents to set general planning policies for the development and use of land under the 2011 Localism Act.

Parishes with a neighbourhood plan will also receive 25% of any Community Infra-structure Levy – cash charged on new developments in the area – compared to parishes without a neighbourhood plan who will receive 15%.