A six-week consultation on a controversial update of the Malton and Norton Neighbourhood Plan

which will guide all future developments in the two towns has been launched.

It is the last chance for local people to comment on the plan and have their say on how the area around the two towns will be shaped up to 2027.

Last October Malton Town Council withdrew the original plan, which was at an advanced stage, to propose a number of amendments relating primarily to highway improvements and Local Green Space.

A second version was then submitted with the public invited to put forward their comments,

Neighbourhood Plans were introduced by the Government under the Localism Act of 2011 and give communities, through their town councils, statutory powers to help with their development.

The Neighbourhood Plan covers the whole of the civil parishes of Malton and Norton-on-Derwent and contains a vision for the parishes along with a set of objectives, planning policies and proposals and community actions to achieve the vision.

Criticism was made by authors of the original plan, along with some town councillors, that the document had already been submitted to Ryedale District Council and the examiner was the final document, not a draft and the process of amending it is a waste of public money.

The amended plan has since been re-submitted to the new North Yorkshire Council and sent out for consultation by before it goes for examination. If approved, it will be considered alongside a planning blueprint called the Local Plan in all future planning applications.

The neighbourhood plan includes a detailed vision statement on how the community wants to see the area develop over the years to 2027, with a set of objectives on how that can be achieved. That includes plans to:

· Protect and improve the environment, particularly the River Derwent.

· Cut congestion and improve air quality.

· Improve connectivity between Malton and Norton.

· Improve community access to the River Derwent.

· Enhance the visual quality of the towns.

· Protect heritage assets.

· Encourage regeneration and development of vacant plots of land.

· Capitalise on history and culture to develop tourism.

· Build on the town’s economic strengths.

· Protect and improve community services and facilities.

· Encourage housing provision that meets local needs.

North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for open to business, Cllr Derek Bastiman, said: “Malton and Norton boast a rich heritage and culture, and these are the bedrocks on which the plan is based.

“Neighbourhood plans are an important part of the planning process, allowing communities to help shape their area and therefore guide future developments. We hope people will express their views on it.”

Cllr Di Keal, Mayor of Norton on Derwent said:

"The Malton and Norton Neighbourhood Plan is a significant document that has taken many years to come to fruition having gone through numerous revisions, but which has now become a good reflection of the twin towns and the issues and concerns that affect our residents. Credit must go to those council members and staff of both town councils who have been involved in the process of developing the plan.

"I would urge residents to respond to the consultation on the Plan and make their voices heard on a document that we hope will positively influence planning decisions in the years to come to."

The consultation runs until Friday, October 20. The documents and comment forms are available at www.northyorks.gov.uk/MaltonNortonPlan and representations can be submitted via the portal.