VOTING was taking place today in the referendum on the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.
The five polling stations opened at 7am but only a handful of people voted within the first couple of hours.
However, by lunchtime more residents had cast their votes.
The polling stations at Henley town hall, Harspden village hall, Henley leisure centre, the Christ Church Centre and Trinity Hall will remain open until 10pm and anyone on the electoral roll in either parish is eligible to vote.
A South Oxfordshire District Council spokesman said: “There has been a good turnout so far and it’s pretty early on.”
A presiding officer at the Christ Church Centre said voting had been “relatively steady”.
The count will take place after the polls close and as soon as the result is known it will be published on the Henley Standard's website.
The plan names 11 sites where about 500 new homes should be built by 2027 to meet Government targets. If more than half of voters have supported adopting the plan, the housing allocations will become legally binding and South Oxfordshire District Council will have to take them into account when deciding planning applications.
The biggest site on the list is Highlands Farm, a light industrial estate off Greys Road which is earmarked for about 170 homes. Crest Nicholson has already submitted an outline planning application.
Also included are the former Jet garage site in Reading Road, which is earmarked for about 55 homes and is now the subject of an application by McCarthy & Stone for 53 “extra care” retirement flats, the former youth centre in Deanfield Road, which was said to be able to take 23 homes but where a care home is now planned, and the site of removals and storage firm Wilkins in Deanfield Avenue, which was earmarked for 20 homes and where Oakford Homes wants to build 23 flats.
The document also identified the following sites for development: Henley Enterprise Park (about 42 homes); the site of the Chilterns End care home (27); the Makower textiles offices in Greys Road (13); a site south-west of Fair Mile (about 60), the former Royal Marine Reserve headquarters in Friday Street (10); the former Exclusively Ladies gym opposite Tesco (30) and a playing field at Gillotts School (50).
In the weeks leading up to the referendum, several former members of the volunteer working groups which wrote the plan launched a campaign urging residents to support it.
They said that if it didn’t pass, it would be “open season” in Henley for developers and the community would have less control over where the new homes went.
A full report on the outcome of the referendum will appear in next week’s Henley Standard.