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Otham - Information for Voters


On Thursday 8 July 2021, there will be a referendum on a neighbourhood development plan for your area. This page explains more about the referendum that is going to take place and how you can take part in it. On this page you can find out about:

  • The referendum and how you can take part
  • The neighbourhood area
  • The neighbourhood plan
  • The development plan (of which neighbourhood plans are part)

Referendum on the Neighbourhood Plan

A referendum asks you to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a question. For this referendum you will receive a ballot paper with this question:

“Do you want Maidstone Borough Council to use the neighbourhood plan for Otham to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?”

How do I vote in the Referendum?

You vote by putting a cross (x) in the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ box on your ballot paper. Put a cross in only one box or your vote will not be counted.

If more people vote ‘yes’ than ‘no’ in this referendum, then Maidstone Borough Council will use the Neighbourhood Development Plan to help it decide planning applications in Otham.

The Neighbourhood Development Plan once adopted will then become part of the Development Plan. In the Maidstone Borough Council Local Planning Authority area the development plan currently consists of the:

  • Maidstone Borough Local Plan 2011-2031 (2017),
  • Loose Neighbourhood Plan 2018-2031 (2019),
  • North Loose Neighbourhood plan 2015-2031 (2016),
  • Staplehurst Neighbourhood Plan 2016-2031 (2020),
  • Marden Neighbourhood Plan 2017 – 2031 (2020),
  • Boughton Monchelsea Neighbourhood Plan 2017 – 2031 (2021),
  • Lenham Neighbourhood Plan 2017 – 2031 (2021),
  • and Kent Minerals and Waste Local Plan 2013-2030 (2016).

If more people vote ‘no’ than ‘yes’, then planning applications will be decided without using the Neighbourhood Development Plan as part of the Development Plan for the local area.

What is Neighbourhood Planning?

Neighbourhood planning aims to help local communities play a direct role in planning the areas in which they live and work.

A community can prepare a neighbourhood plan. This plan can show how the community wants land to be used and developed in its area.

What is a neighbourhood area?

A neighbourhood area can cover single streets or large urban or rural areas. The boundaries of a neighbourhood area are put forward by:

  • Town or parish councils
  • A neighbourhood forum (a group of at least 21 people in areas without town or parish councils)

In Otham the boundary of the neighbourhood area was determined by Otham Parish Council and is identical to Otham Parish.

Who can prepare a Neighbourhood Plan?

Neighbourhood plans are prepared by town or parish councils, or neighbourhood forums. In this case, the Otham Neighbourhood Development Plan was prepared by the Otham Parish Council.

What is a Development Plan?

In England, planning applications are determined by local planning authorities in accordance with the Development Plan. A Development Plan is a set of documents that set out the policies for the development and use of land across the entire local authority area. Within the Maidstone Borough, the local planning authority is Maidstone Borough Council.

Neighbourhood Planning in Otham

The referendum area is identified on the map and is identical to the area which has been designated as the Otham Neighbourhood Development Plan area.

Referendum expenses

Expenses can be incurred by an individual or body during the period of the referendum for referendum purposes.

The referendum expenses limit that will apply in relation to this Referendum is £2407.49. The number of persons entitled to vote in the Referendum by reference to which the limit has been calculated is 771.

The specified documents can be viewed online at:

Further information is available at:

https://localplan.maidstone.gov.uk/home/neighbourhood-planning

Can I vote?

You can vote in the referendum if you live in the Polling District:

IA – Otham (Part)

IB – Otham (Part)

IC – Otham (Part)

  • you are registered to vote in local council elections; and
  • you are 18 years of age or over on Thursday 8 July 2021

You have to be registered to vote by Tuesday 22 June 2021 to vote in the referendum. You can check if you are registered to vote by calling our Helpline 01622 602007.

The referendum will be conducted based on procedures which are similar to those used at local government elections.

Ways of voting?

There are three ways of voting:

In person on 8 July 2021:

  • At your local polling station. It is easy and a member of staff will always help if you are not sure what to do
  • The polling stations are:
    • Otham Village Hall, Otham Street, Otham, Maidstone, Kent ME15 8RN
  • You will receive a poll card confirming your polling station for this referendum
  • If you do not receive your poll card, you can contact our Helpline on 01622 602007 or email us on electoralservices@maidstone.gov.uk to find out where your polling station is
  • The polling station is open from 7am to 10pm

By post:

  • If you have a postal vote already, you will receive a postal poll card confirming this
  • To vote by post, you will need to complete an application form and return it to The Electoral Registration Officer to arrive by 5pm on Wednesday 23 June 2021, either by            
    • Post: Electoral Services, Maidstone Borough Council Maidstone House, King Street, Maidstone, Kent ME15 6JQ
    • Email: electoralservices@maidstone.gov.uk
  • Postal votes can be sent overseas but you need to think about whether you will have time to receive and return your completed vote by 8 July 2021.
  • You should receive your postal vote about a week before polling day. If it doesn’t arrive in time, you can ask for a replacement up to 5pm on 8 July 2021 by contacting our Helpline 01622 602007.

By proxy:

  • If you have a proxy vote already, you will receive a proxy poll card letter confirming this
  • If you can’t get to the polling station and don’t wish to vote by post, you may be able to vote by proxy. This means allowing somebody that you trust to vote on your behalf
  • To vote by proxy, you will need to complete an application form and return it to the Electoral Registration Officer to arrive by 5pm on Wednesday 30 June 2021 either by
    • Post:  Electoral Services, Maidstone Borough Council Maidstone House, King Street, Maidstone, Kent ME15 6JQ
    • Email: electoralservices@maidstone.gov.uk
  • When you apply for a proxy vote, you must say why you cannot vote in person.Anyone can be your proxy as long as they are eligible to vote and are willing to vote on your behalf. You will have to tell them how you want them to cast your vote.If you appoint a proxy, you can vote in person if you wish, but only if your proxy has not already voted on your behalf and has not arranged a postal vote for you

Postal and proxy vote application forms are available from our Helpline 01622 602007 or by emailing electoralservices@maidstone.gov.uk. You can also download forms from the Electoral Commission website www.electoralcommission.org.uk

Am I registered to vote?

If you’re not registered, you won’t be able to vote. You can check if you are registered by calling our Helpline on 01622 602007.

If you are not registered to vote, you will need to complete an application to be received by the Electoral Registration Officer by Tuesday 22 June 2021 at this address:

Electoral Services, Maidstone Borough Council

Maidstone House, King Street

Maidstone, Kent ME15 6JQ

Registration forms are available from our Helpline on 01622 602007 or by emailing electoralservices@maidstone.gov.uk . Applications can be made online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. For more information on registering to vote, please visit the Electoral Commission website www.electoralcommission.org.uk

How to find out more:

For queries about planning issues and neighbourhood planning in general, please contact Maidstone’s Planning Policy Team on Tel: 01622 602000.

For more information about voting and the arrangements for this referendum, please contact our Helpline on 01622 602007 or email electoralservices@maidstone.gov.uk


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