The huge proposed housing development on the downs north of Dorchester, sprawling down onto the edge of the water meadows – a landscape made famous by Thomas Hardy – is being opposed both by the Council to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and STAND, a pressure group of town residents.
It has now emerged that the town clerk of Dorchester Town Council, Adrian Stuart, wrote a letter supporting the Garden Village bid – even though town councillors voted against the new development, codenamed DOR15.
The move followed a written request by Hilary Jordan, corporate manager for planning at the former Dorset Councils Partnership, despite West Dorset councillors agreeing to defer the decision on the site to the new Dorset Council.
Ms Jordan said: “The preferred approach put forward as part of the latest consultation included the north Dorchester site.
“To support the delivery of the site, the council is now seeking to produce a masterplan to set out in detail how it envisages development taking place… To assist with the production of this masterplan and ultimately delivery of the site, a bid is being prepared to the government’s Garden Communities Programme.
“Would it be possible for you to send a letter of support for the North Dorchester expansion?”
The town clerk sent the letter, but makes it clear he only supports the principle of a Garden Village, “wherever that may eventually be” to ensure it is “delivered in a comprehensive way, supported by a high quality design”.
“I wrote a letter in the town clerk’s capacity supporting the principle of a garden village solution but pointing out that we did not agree with the proposal for north Dorchester,” said Mr Stuart.
“I said, not the town council, if you are going to do any new development in west Dorset we want you to do it in line with Garden Village principles, therefore we wholeheartedly support you making an application for a Garden Village, but you will be aware of our opposition to DOR15.”