Dorchester residents and businesses are being given the chance to have their say on the development of a Dorchester town centre master plan.

The master plan aims to take a comprehensive approach to the future of the town centre. It will address key development sites, public space and signage, parking, traffic and transport, environmental impact, and accessibility.

Cllr Anthony Alford, leader of West Dorset District Council (WDDC), said: “We are excited about re-invigorating our beautiful, culturally and archaeologically rich county town. The master plan will ensure members and officers across our partner local authorities are all working towards the same vision.”

Cllr John Russell, chairman of Dorchester Town Centre members’ working group, said: “It’s important to remember the master plan involves the whole town centre and not just sites earmarked for development.

“This consultation will allow the people of Dorchester and surrounding villages to have their say on what the vision for Dorchester should be.”

Cllr Mary Penfold said: “Dorchester deserves to be an exciting destination that isn’t simply defined by its retail offer. Culturally, the town is having a ‘moment’. There is multi-million pound investment in Dorset County Museum. Shire Hall has opened to raving reviews. Work continues on how we can revitalise the market and other sites.”

However, Dorchester Civic Society says “the current retail proposals of WDDC either contravene or put in jeopardy some of the policies and proposals [in the Local Plan]. No evidence has been put forward for the Trinity Street proposal being abandoned other than that it is ‘too difficult’.”

The society says the council should focus on safeguarding the existing town centre, reducing traffic congestion, enhancing Trinity Street, developing the market on its present site, and maximising the town’s historical and literary assets to boost tourism.

To have your say you can pop to the council offices at South Walks House, Dorchester on 15 November, 6pm-9pm (presentations at 6:30pm and 8pm); 16 November, 10am-4pm (presentations at 10:30am, 12:30pm and 2:30pm); and 17 November, 10am-1pm (presentations at 10:30am and 12pm).

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