Seven areas of Dorset – including Chickerell and Portland – are one step away from having more of a say in future development in their communities.

It comes after residents in all the areas voted to accept neighbourhood plans in local referendums.

The plans give residents more say in the future use of land and buildings in their area and will guide planning applications. It can say where new homes, shops or offices might be built or where important green spaces might be protected.

Final versions of the Chickerell, Portland, Milton Abbas, Puddletown, Arne, Blandford + and Shaftesbury plans were submitted to Dorset Council for examination and referendums were held. Residents voted on whether to accept or reject the plans on May 6.

In all areas, residents voted to accept - the percentage of votes cast in favour were as follows:

* Chickerell Neighbourhood Plan - 84.5 per cent

* Portland Neighbourhood Plan - 82.7 per cent

* Milton Abbas Neighbourhood Plan - 83.5 per cent

* Puddletown Neighbourhood Plan- 88.3 per cent

* Arne Neighbourhood Plan - 93.0 per cent

* Blandford + Neighbourhood Plan - 83.3 per cent

* Shaftesbury Neighbourhood Plan - 87.8 per cent

All the plans were drawn up by local people with support from Dorset Council’s Planning Policy Team.

Cllr David Walsh, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, said: “I am very pleased all seven neighbourhood plans were successful at the elections. Successful neighbourhood plans are a result of a lot of hard work by community volunteers.

"This brings the total number of neighbourhood plans in Dorset that have been endorsed by referendum to 28. It is real proof of community spirit and how much people care about their local area.”

These neighbourhood plans will now be taken to Dorset Council’s Cabinet, where councillors will decide whether to formally adopt them.