A REFERENDUM is being held in Poole today over a plan which shapes the future of the town centre and Hamworthy.

Poole Quays Forum is urging voters to give their support to the plans, which are designed to make Poole and Hamworthy a more attractive place to live and work.

The proposal, which has been put together by volunteers, will set the agenda for any development schemes submitted for the area.

It was approved by an inspector last year after weeks of consultation and accepted by Borough of Poole last November.

It includes policies to protect open spaces, calls for high quality design in new developments and also focuses on improving the town centre and Quay.

Plans to add more facilities in the centre of Hamworthy are also included.

Chair of Poole Quays Forum, Bill Constance, said he is keen to see a high turnout.

He said: "A neighbourhood plan gives local people the chance to have a real say in how their local area is developed in future.

"Developers will have to show they have taken residents’ views into account.

"A vote in favour also ensures that 25 per cent of all the Community Infrastructure Levy charged by the Borough on new developments will be allocated to priorities identified by the Plan.

"So Poole Quays Forum, which is now a registered charity, will have both the legal standing and the financial capability to make a real difference."

He added: "Poole is unusual in having so much town centre land available for regeneration.

"The potential is huge, but if development is to succeed it has to meet the needs of the Town and integrate successfully with the existing communities.

"PQF was formed to give local people a say in that regeneration. A vote in favour of the neighbourhood plan will allow residents to be actively involved in the future of their town."

Polling stations will be set-up at Hamworthy Library on Blandford Road, The United Reformed Church on Skinner Street, and St James Church Hall in Church Street.

Polling stations will be open for residents to cast their vote until 10pm.