DOZENS of people braved the cold to vote for a crucial planning document that will safeguard a parish's rural scenery.

More than 92 per cent of voters elected to adopt South Leigh Parish Council's Neighbourhood Plan, which gives residents more control over future development.

The document aims to maintain the parish's 'character and existing strong sense of community', which was threatened by housing developer Gladman's recent application for a 3,000-home garden village near South Leigh.

This was withdrawn in November and parish council chair Nicky Brooks explained the plan would protect the area from similar proposals.

She said: “This is a huge statement of solidarity by our community and a warning to property developers who might seek to ruin the essential rural nature of the parish.

"The Gladman application spurred us on but wasn't the reason for the plan.

"We think our rural location is integral to our parish and its wellbeing.

"We don't mind it changing a bit, but we want to keep the nature and feel of the parish, while keeping it vibrant."

West Oxfordshire District Council formally authorised the parish council to produce a neighbourhood plan in March 2017. After the document was drawn up and following public consultations with residents, the draft plan was accepted by the district council's independent examiner.

The plan was put to the public on December 20, with 171 people voting in favour, 13 against, and one abstention.

It will support the district's local plan, which was adopted in September and sets out how to build 15,950 houses and associated infrastructure up to 2031.

Mrs. Brooks said: "We will not be complacent and will use our experience and considerable expertise to fight other schemes that threaten the democratic wish of residents.

"With an adopted neighbourhood plan in our armoury, we will be better equipped to protect our parish to the benefit of all."