EALING is set to break new ground with a referendum on a new neighbourhood plan for the town centre.

It will be the first such vote in London and only the second in the country.

The scheme was devised by the Central Ealing Neighbourhood Forum, a joint body equally representing residents and businesses, and has been cleared by the council to go to a referendum. If approved, it will help guide future development in the town centre.

More than 16,000 residents and 800 businesses in central Ealing, who will be affected by the new Central Ealing Neighbourhood Plan, can vote.

They will have the chance to hear more about it at a public meeting on Monday, November 25 at 8 pm in Ealing Town Hall. They can quiz those behind it and give their views on whether or not it should come into force. All are welcome.

The plan draws on Ealing's cultural history and aims to enhance the quality of existing townscape, to protect green spaces, improve access to public transport, reduce congestion and encourage a variety of uses in the town centre.

The aim is to make the area a distinctive and welcoming place, attracting people from a wide area to visit, work, study, shop and stay.

The usual polling stations in the 10 polling districts will be open for voting during the hours of 7am-10 PM.

Alternatively, local residents and businesses can vote by post or proxy provided they have registered by Wednesday, September 27. Forms are available from Ealing Council's Elections Office on (020) 8825 7777 or from www.ealing.gov.uk/elections.

The result of the referendum will be announced on Friday, October 13. If a majority of both businesses and residents vote in favour, it will be automatically carried.

If there is a split in the vote, the final decision will rest with Ealing Council.

More details are on the Forum web site at www.centralealingforum.com