Residents will get the chance to have a say on the revised Local Plan that would see 3,500 new homes scarring the downs north of the River Frome in Dorchester.

Members from West Dorset District Council’s strategy committee have given their approval of the next stage of the Local Plan review.

The full council’s will now have to consider the proposals when they meet on Tuesday, 31 July, which the public can attend.

The beautiful view across the water meadows to the rolling downs beyond that could be lost to ugly urban sprawl

The beautiful view across the water meadows to the rolling downs beyond that could be lost to ugly urban sprawl

There will be an eight-week public consultation on the preferred options document, starting in August.

Roadshows are being planned for the first few weeks of September where you will be able to speak with our planning experts. You can have your say by submitting comments through our on-line consultation form, by email or by post.

The Dorchester Voice is launching a campaign to prevent the massive new housing development, which you will be able to take part in.

Lost forever

Town councillor and Town Crier Alistair Chisholm said: “The northern boundary of the town has remained the same since Roman times and is that described so eloquently by Thomas Hardy in his novel The Mayor of Casterbridge.

“It would be lost forever and with it the uniqueness and the “timelessness” (to use the word chosen by the Planning Inspector when he refused an appeal to build on this land previously) of Dorchester’s setting on a chalk prominence above the flood-plain of the river Frome.

“The countryside immediately north of the town centre, so close and so clearly visible today from the Town Pump and North Square,  would be concreted over and valuable farming land sacrificed.”

To read Alistair’s full article, click here.

Cllr Ray Nowak, Weymouth & Portland Borough Council’s Briefholder for Environment & Sustainability, said: “I am pleased that we are a step closer to beginning the next stage of the joint local plan review. It’s an extremely important document which will set out future development in the area.”

Background

The West Dorset, Weymouth & Portland Local Plan was adopted in October 2015. The inspector’s report, following the public examination of the plan, identified that an early review should be undertaken. This was in order to identify additional land capable of meeting housing needs to the end of the current plan period and for the five years afterwards.

The first part of the local plan review took place in early 2017 on the issues and options for the plan. Following the information gained from this consultation, a ‘preferred options’ document was put together.

Cllr Ian Gardner, West Dorset District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, said: “The consultation provides an opportunity for residents, local businesses and statutory bodies to comment on the emerging Local Plan.

“When finally approved it will detail the sites allocated for development and be used when considering Planning Applications. For this review the councils are required to allocate sufficient sites to meet the demand to 2036.″

Editor’s comment

This is the biggest and most controversial proposal for new housing development in Dorchester since Poundbury, and would forever destroy the views of the countryside from the Town Pump and Salisbury Field. The idyllic walk across the water meadows to the Blue Bridge would be marred not by a beautiful vista of rolling downland, but urban sprawl.

This scheme must be stopped, and don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by the ‘consultation exercise’. Remember the ‘referendum’ on whether West Dorset District Council should move out of its offices in High West Street and into a massive new site on the Charles Street car park? The town voted overwhelmingly against, but councillors ignored it and carried on regardless.

There are plenty of other brownfield sites in Dorchester that could be developed, including the county council site at the Top o’ Town, with its redundant library building. With the Dorset councils merger, is this site really needed? I am sure the Prince of Wales would offer office accommodation on Poundbury (as he did with WDDC offices) if more space is needed.

Yes, lodge your objections to the Local Plan revision, but we mustn’t stop there. We must demonstrate (peacefully!) at council meetings and use every other legal opportunity to make sure this isn’t just steamrollered through.

In the short term, we must persuade WDDC to postpone any decision until after elections to the new merged Dorset council next May. We must question candidates standing for election about their intentions, with regard to the plan. If necessary we must put up our own, non-political candidates for the new council, fighting on this single issue.

This battle is too important to lose.

Richard Reed, Editor, Dorchester Voice

 

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