CULLOMPTON residents must seize the chance to shape the future of their town.

That's the message from one councillor, following Cullompton Town Council's application to be designated as a neighbourhood area.

The application involves producing a neighbourhood plan for the town which already includes the idea of a new settlement of 3,000 homes to the east of Cullompton and a potential multi-million-pound development off junction 27.

A neighbourhood plan is a community-led framework for guiding the future development and growth of an area.

It allows residents to have a say on the growth of the town, as well as any potential changes and Cllr Michael Speirs, of Cullompton Town Council, says it is vitally important that people make their voices heard.

He said: “It's the town's opportunity to decide its own future, that's really what it comes down to. It's a chance to look at just about every aspect of how the town operates - from the style of housing to our leisure facilities and infrastructure.

“If we don't, it will all be decided by people from outside the area. Unlike previous reviews, the neighbourhood plan has legal status.

“This is a real opportunity for all the people and the community to have a voice in the future of Cullompton.”

Locals are encouraged to attend an exhibition at the Hayridge, Exeter Hill, from 10am until 1pm on Saturday.

A neighbourhood plan must conform to the strategic policies of the Mid Devon Local Plan, national planning policy and human rights legislation. Neighbourhood plans are also subject to public examination and referendum. Once adopted a neighbourhood plan is taken into account in planning decisions.

Mid Devon District Council will be consulting on its local plan until March 24, before developing a final submission for 2013-2033.

The population of Mid Devon is forecast to increase by 15,000 people between 2006 and 2031 - and statistics show that it has grown at a faster rate than the national average over the past 20 years.