A massive new expansion of Dorchester is being planned north of the River Frome in a move that would forever destroy the idyllic views of the countryside from the town centre.
Planners determined to meet new government housing quotas are eyeing up the rolling downs north of the river to build 3,500 new homes.
The move – which would expand the town’s population by 6,000 to roughly 30,000 when it is finished – would be the biggest development of Dorchester since Poundbury.
The news, outlined in a revision to the 2015 Local Plan, comes just weeks after a scheme for 120 new homes near Wolfeton House, between Charminster and Dorchester, was turned down because of its impact on the grade I listed building.
The new site would spread westwards from Slyer’s Lane (B3143) towards the Old Sherborne Road. The water meadows would be spared as a recreational space, but the beautiful vista enjoyed from the town, and the view across the meadows from the Blue Bridge, would be lost to urban sprawl that would destroy the town’s semi-rural setting.
A new northern bypass would be built between the A35 and A37 to serve the site, running from the A35 Stinsford roundabout to link up with the B3147 between Weirs roundabout and The Grove.
Planners claim the 25-acre development “will fit within the landscape of the area, incorporating a range of measures to soften the urban form including copse and woodland planting areas on the higher ground and trees along the streets within the development”.
They say the scheme “will deliver the number of homes, workspace and infrastructure necessary to enable the town to continue to grow as a well-planned cohesive whole”.
The plan adds: “The development will enhance the town’s role as an economic hub for Dorset… delivering space for business growth. The town’s tourist economy will be expanded through enhancements to the water meadows and capitalising on the town’s Hardy heritage.”
Charminster will also expand to the west under the new plan, which runs until 2031 – but will not be allowed to join up with Dorchester, to retain its character as a separate village.
To view the plan, visit https://tinyurl.com/westdorsetplan