The fight has started to halt plans for 3,500 new homes on the downs north of the River Frome in Dorchester, outlined in the revised Local Plan.
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 (WDDC) 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.
People are fed up with the sham of local ‘democracy’, where the same councillors get re-elected, time after time, on a low turnout, just to toe the party line. It’s time for power to come back to the people.
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.
Let’s start with the full meeting of West Dorset District Council on Tuesday, 31 August.
This battle is too important to lose.
Richard Reed, Editor, Dorchester Voice