AS voters prepare to cast their votes on Thursday those living in one village will also be asked to take part in a referendum on the future shape of the area.

The referendum is being held in Blackrod on whether to adopt a neighbourhood plan described as a ‘community led framework for guiding the future development, regeneration and conservation of the area’.

Blackrod voters will be asked to mark yes or no to the question ‘do you want Bolton Council to use the neighbourhood plan for the Blackrod area to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?’.

The plan sets out what type of housing should be built, how public transport should be improved and which heritage sites should be protected.

The poll was due to be held in May 2020 but was postponed at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.

A steering group was formed and in 2019 they signed off the plan after a public consultation.

The plan sets out a framework for development and conservation until 2033.

The document says it hopes ‘Blackrod can maintain its distinctive character, while still retaining its village feel’.

On housing the plan states that people felt that with recent housing developments the parish had enough housing but not necessarily of the right mix.

Although many consultees were nervous about further development, the majority recognised that there was a need for housing, providing it met the needs of the community.

Key themes that emerged were that here was not enough suitable housing for the ageing population or homes for first time buyers and there should be more affordable housing and housing for local people.

The plan says development of a minimum of 215 homes in the area over the plan period will be supported.

The plan also refers to the development of between 20 and 60 dwellings for people aged over 55, on land behind Vicarage Road West between the church school and the cricket club, which will be supported.

On transport, the plans states that it will seek the introduction of shared use pedestrian off-carriageway cycleway along the A6, Blackrod bypass.

Other transport initiatives are outlined in the plan.

It states: “Blackrod Town Council will work with TfGM (Transport for Greater Manchester) and other  stakeholders to create a strategy that provides better public transport services for the residents of and visitors to Blackrod.

“In particular, this joint strategy shall seek better provision and frequency of bus services connecting Blackrod with neighbouring conurbations, hospitals, schools and other facilities and services and seek increased frequency of rail services connecting with Blackrod, together with greater provision of park’n’ride facilities for residents.”