A referendum is a direct vote on a particular proposal.
If you live in an area that wishes to produce a Neighbourhood Plan / Order in relation to the development planning framework, there are a number of steps which have to be followed which end in a referendum for the people who live in the area. The referendum establishes the level of community support for the plan/order.
You can find more about Neighbourhood planning.
UK wide, national and regional referendums
The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) establishes a fixed legal framework for the conduct of any referendum held in the UK. It covers referendums such as that held in the North East for the proposed Regional Assembly.
Referendums can be used by local councils to test public opinion on local issues. We have never held a referendum of our own held under PPERA but we could do so if we wished. We have used other methods of consultation such as the Citizens Panel.
For more information see elections and referendums on About my vote website.