Campaigners have vowed to fight on against plans to build up to 1,000 new homes in a beautiful valley overlooked by Thomas Hardy’s former home, Max Gate.
The site, between the bypass and the Broadmayne road and known as Came View, was adopted into the draft Local Plan by West Dorset District Council in March, but the Plan has yet to be finalised.
Now the fight has been joined by high-profile literary figures such as Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and crime writer Minette Walter, who both live nearby.
The site is on Duchy of Cornwall land, but Lord Fellowes said he did not believe Prince Charles could be aware of the scheme, telling the Daily Mail, “I am absolutely sure the Prince of Wales, of all people, would be horrified”.
The land earmarked for development is also close to Came Rectory where poet William Barnes lived, and Hardy walked the path adjoining the field to attend Barnes’s funeral. The rectory enjoys beautiful views over the field under threat, which is adjacent to a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the Hardy Society and the Barnes Society have joined forces to oppose the scheme.
The Local Plan sets out a long term planning strategy to meet future housing, employment and leisure needs in the area, and successive governments have ordered councils to find more land for new homes.
This means any land allocated for development that is removed or reduced from the Local Plan would need to be replaced elsewhere.
One of the campaigners, West Dorset independent councillor Alistair Chisholm, said, “We were told Dorchester would not expand beyond the bypass. This is a very important bit of literary landscape, riddled with prehistoric remains. “There are alternative sites within West Dorset – surely you can put some more homes in Sherborne, and there are several villages that could do with a few extra homes to support their local shops and pubs. The fight is not over yet!”