TWO communities in North Oxford have come together to take the future of their areas into their own hands.

The residents of Summertown and St Margaret’s have agreed to form a neighbourhood forum that will create a plan for the two areas.

New legal powers allow communities to create neighbourhood plans which carry weight when planning applications for homes and businesses are decided.

Under the Localism Act, which became law around a year ago, neighbourhoods can put together planning policy to complement that created by councils and now two more communities are taking up the opportunity.

And the people of Summertown and St Margaret’s hope it will give them more control over future developments – particularly Diamond Place and Ewert House which Oxford City Council has earmarked for housing.

Martin Roberts, of Frenchay Road in St Margaret’s, was part of the working group which put the process into motion.

He said: “If we were to put together a really good plan then that must be for the benefit of this generation and generations to come.

“We have chosen to bring the two wards together because the shopping centre straddles both of them, as does Diamond Place and Ewert House.”

A meeting was held at the United Reformed Church in Summertown last week when the working party gathered more than the necessary 21 signatures to begin the process of creating a neighbourhood forum.

The forum will officially be formed at a meeting in January and will then begin discussing what the Summertown and St Margaret’s neighbourhood plan will look like.

A neighbourhood plan would have to go through a public consultation as well as a local referendum to become reality.

Stuart McCready, city councillor for Summertown, said: “Having a neighbourhood plan can give the area a strong voice in its own development. It will also give people something to focus their concerns around in a constructive way.”

Wolvercote has already set up a neighbourhood forum and is beginning the process of creating its plan.

Thame is already well on its way to having such a plan. The final consultation has been held and a referendum is being held in the spring.