A NEIGHBOURHOOD plan could bring extra money from developers to Ringwood.

Ringwood Town Council voted to go ahead with the plan, which is designed to allow communities to shape the development of their local area. A referendum of residents then decides if it is adopted.

Councillor Philip Day said the plan could bring a “potential financial benefit” in Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding contributions from housing developers.

He said at the moment the town council received 15 per cent but if a neighbourhood plan was in place it would get 25 per cent, which would allow it to do more in terms of permitted projects.

Cllr Day said: “With the development that is scheduled to take place under the Local Plan in Ringwood along with all the infill developments that we’ve seen we are actually talking about a very substantial amount of money. This is not extra CIL money; it is money NFDC would not receive, or they would receive, but instead of parting company with 15 per cent of it to us they have to part company with 25 per cent of it to us, which means we would be position to do far more in terms of permitted projects.”

He said the plan could not go against New Forest District Council’s Local Plan but could influence certain planning aspects like design. However, he admitted it was an “enormous amount of work”, adding it would have a “huge benefit to Ringwood”.

The meeting heard the 15 per cent was currently capped at £100 per property but if a neighbourhood plan is made the town council would get 25 per cent without the cap.

Councillor Jeremy Heron said he did not want to push forward on this based on a “financial argument” and had concerns about neighbourhood plans.

The plan, he added, would also need to involve a diverse range of people. He also said in terms of the CIL funding the town council would need to look at more serious infrastructure such as improved broadband connectivity and support for roads.

Cllr Day said in terms of road structure the town council could do these types of projects rather than relying on other authorities.

But he added it “wasn’t just about the money”. He also said it was up to councillors and the steering group to ensure all sections of the community were involved in the plan for the “future of our town”.

Councillor Steve Rippon-Swaine said the local plan already touched on items in the neighbourhood plan. He also raised concerns about the officer time it would take up and the “unbearable burden”it would be.

He said: “I don’t think we should be spending the time and money on doing it.”

Seven councillors were in support of going forward with a neighbourhood plan while three were against and one abstained.