Neighbourhood plans are the most local level of the planning framework beneath the county-wide Northumberland Local Plan, which is undergoing independent examination at present, and the National Planning Policy Framework.
While a number of communities already have or are working on plans which cover all aspects of development in their areas, there is also the option to create a single-issue plan.
And this is the route that Alnmouth has chosen to go down in a bid to ensure that any new dwelling that is built or created in the parish is subject to a 100% residency condition and not used as a second home or holiday let.
Coun Shaun Whyte, chairman of Alnmouth Parish Council, said: “We appreciate that the village benefits from more facilities as a result of tourism than would otherwise be the case, but we feel that to protect the community, a brake needs to be applied.”
He explained that a full neighbourhood plan, given the amount of work and effort it takes, was not considered necessary for the village given the protections already afforded by the conservation area, the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and the geographical limitations.
A first draft of the single-issue plan should be ready in the next few weeks and residents will be asked to share their views. It is anticipated that the plan could go to referendum later this year.
“We do need to try to protect the sustainability of the community going forward,” Coun Whyte added. “I think we are reaching the tipping point and we want to put a halt to it.”
Alnmouth is not the first community to use neighbourhood planning to focus on the issue of second and holiday homes.
One of the key policies in the North Northumberland Coast Neighbourhood Plan, which encompasses the villages of Bamburgh, Beadnell and Seahouses, is that any new homes must be permanently occupied as principal residences and lived in full-time.
And not long after this plan passed referendum in May 2018, it was revealed that Northumberland County Council was proposing something similar in its new Local Plan, which would apply to ‘any parishes with 20 per cent or more household spaces with no usual residents’.
The proposed policy says that new dwellings in these areas ‘will only be supported where first and future occupation is restricted in perpetuity to ensure that each new dwelling is occupied only as a principal residence’.
The neighbourhood plan for Embleton, also covering Christon Bank, whose final draft is currently out for consultation, also makes reference to principal residence dwellings.
Elsewhere, the referendum on the Cramlington Neighbourhood Plan – the 10th in Northumberland to pass independent examination – will take place on Thursday, January 30.
The plan, which requires a simple majority in support, and accompanying documents can be viewed at www.northumberland.gov.uk/ourplan