WHERE is Headington? That’s a question visitors to Oxford might ask themselves as they try to find the area’s famous shark.

But now the people who live there are trying to settle once and for all what parts of the city really are in Headington.

Residents want to draw up a neighbourhood plan – a legally-binding document to influence development in their area.

Under the Localism Act 2011, neighbourhood plans give communities more power, but the first hurdle is identifying what the exact boundary would be.

Patrick Coulter, who is chairman of Headington Action and a member of the neighbourhood forum steering group, said: “The regulations require that you define the area so the local authority can then approve it.

“The main idea is to make sure the hospitals and other institutions fall within the boundaries, but there are some bits around the edges where the residents may not feel part of Headington, like towards Marston Road.

“If you live in a village it is pretty clear where you are.”

Fellow steering group member Veronica Hurst added: “It is essential that the new neighbourhood plan covers the whole of Headington. That’s why we need local people to help us decide where Headington is.”

Oxford City Council defines the political ward of Headington as including Windmill Road, Old Headington and the John Radcliffe Hospital, but the proposed neighbourhood boundaries could go further than that.

At the moment the proposed boundaries stretch from South Park to the ring road – taking in the council wards of Churchill and Headington as well as part of Barton and Sandhills and Quarry and Risinghurst. To help get an idea of the Headington boundary the steering group held a stall at Sunday’s Headington Festival in Bury Knowle Park where people could have their say on the issue.

A neighbourhood plan would help the people of Headington exert influence over planning decisions made by the city council by drawing up guidelines about what kind of development residents want.

But this could not contradict anything which is already in the city council’s planning policy.

City councillor for Headington David Rundle said communities often felt they had little say on decisions affecting them, adding: “A neighbourhood plan holds out the chance for the community to take charge. And, in Headington, where the threats to the car park, the library and open green spaces are fresh in the memory, that can only be a good thing.”

Until 1929 Headington was separate from the city of Oxford. There has been evidence of human settlement in the area since the Stone Age.

So far in Oxford, Summertown and St Margaret’s, Wolvercote and Jericho are on the way towards getting a neighbourhood plan drawn up.

Thame is the first place in Oxfordshire to have one, after a local referendum last month.