Residents in a coastal village will be able to have their say on planning issues after a new forum received council backing.
Around 280 residents have joined the newly established Whitburn Neighbourhood Forum - which aims to give those living in the village a chance to influence the future planning developments in the area.
The forum, which is chaired by Phil Leaf from Shearwater, has been six months in the making, after an application was made to South Tyneside Council in September.
The forum is the first of its kind in the borough.
Mr Leaf, 63, is delighted it has been recognised by the council.
He said: “The Whitburn Neighbourhood Forum has been formally designated by South Tyneside Council to carry out neighbourhood planning activities in the Whitburn area.
“It is an official body that takes part in neighbourhood planning issues.
“It is authorised to make a neighbourhood plan, which sets out the vision for the future development of the neighbourhood area. “After the plan has been approved by a local referendum, it becomes statutory planning policy, which means that any future development will need to conform to that plan.”
In the run up to being adopted, the forum recruited support in the community through a leaflet drop and social media campaign.
Forum member Dorothy Fleet said regular meetings will be held so that residents can express their views, which will then be passed on by representatives at council planning meetings.
She said: “Since getting the go ahead it is as case of asking the villagers what they like or don’t like about the village and working with planning at the council to make it a village that we all love.”
A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said: “Neighbourhood Plans provide an opportunity for local communities to actively influence the future planning of the places where they live and work.
“Neighbourhood Plans, when adopted, sit alongside the borough-wide Local Plan.
“The purpose of the Whitburn Neighbourhood Forum is to carry out Neighbourhood Planning activities within the Whitburn Neighbourhood Area.
“We look forward to working with them throughout this process.”
Anyone who lives in Whitburn and wishes to join the forum can fill in an online form at www.facebook.com/WhitburnNF