WORK is set to begin on a neighbourhood plan for Salisbury in the new year.

The document, which will take at least a year to complete, is designed to allow communities to shape the development of their local area, including what types of homes are built.

A referendum of city residents will then decide whether it is adopted.

According to government guidance, neighbourhood plans allow communities to choose where they want new homes, shops and offices to be built, have their say on what those new buildings should look like and what infrastructure should be provided.

Other parishes in south Wiltshire, including Downton, Porton, and Tisbury either already have neighbourhood plans or are drawing them up.

Salisbury City Council leader Matthew Dean said: “It’s not about stopping development because you can’t do that. It’s about putting development in the right place and having the right sort of development.”

The plan would encompass issues such as drainage, flooding infrastructure, and street scene.

“We want to protect the historic shop fronts in the city centre. We don’t want to look like every other city in the country.”

Cllr Dean explained that having a plan would entitle the council to extra money from developers to spend on the city.

He said the process would be “community led”, with a “very strong role for city councillors in each ward”.

Salisbury’s will be “the biggest neighbourhood plan in Wiltshire by miles”, said Cllr Dean. “We are a unique case because we are such a big parish.

“It will be a challenge because what works in one area will not work in others.

“We are largely built up to our boundaries which means when we have infill development we want to make sure it’s of a good quality. We are going to explore whether we can control what type of housing accommodation is being built. There’s a view we are not building enough starter homes or family housing and too much for older people.”

Laverstock and Ford Parish Council is already developing its own plan. But Cllr Dean said he would look to share some evidence-gathering costs with Laverstock on issues such as flooding, traffic and infrastructure.

Labour councillor Tom Corbin said his party would support the plan if it would benefit the city, but warned that the process could be “exhausting” and costly.

A public meeting is expected in early January.