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Anger growing over development plans
BRIDPORT people want a say in the future – and they don’t want ‘a Poundbury’ dumped on the town.
Anger and frustration came to a head at a special town council meeting when over 100 people packed the town hall.
Feelings ran high as councillors agreed their response to the draft local plan which includes almost 800 new homes to be built on green fields on the town’s outskirts.
Objectors believe Bridport is bearing the brunt of a reduction in future housing in Sherborne and Dorchester – and some estimate the town could have 1,600 new homes in less than 20 years, an increase of 25 per cent.
Their anger has been fuelled by a series of unpopular decisions from the district and county councils, including the West Bay road changes, the closure of public toilets and proposals for on-street parking meters.
Coun Dave Rickard even suggested the local plan should be withdrawn. He said consultation on the plan was so flawed the planning inspector should pull it or at the very least listen to the objectors to the huge Vearse Farm development.
He said: “We need the inspector to pull this plan because it hasn’t been done properly. They haven’t taken notice of the town council.
“We said right from the start that a development the size of Vearse Farm was not acceptable.
“You cannot suddenly dump a Poundbury on any town.
“Poundbury may well mellow and become a part of Dorchester but it will take decades if not centuries to do so.
“This is the end of a long line of examples of planning suggestions that don’t match up to the aspirations of the people of Bridport.”
Vearse Farm protestor Sarah Horniman said people should protest about building on an AONB and that the upper limit for houses on the Vearse Farm site had been removed.
By her calculations, with the plan relevant up to 2031, it could mean 1,600 homes, which would increase the size of the town by a quarter.
Residents have formed a protest group called Advearse and spokesmen Barry Bates and Richard Freer both spoke to outline their objections to building on a flood plain, the increase in traffic and lack of infrastructure.
Coun Ros Kayes said Bridport was not being treated fairly – especially in the light of big developments being scrapped in Sherborne and Dorchester.
She said: “This is why people have come today. They are saying to me they do not want to be told what should happen to Bridport.
“They want to be able to decide it themselves.”
She suggested the ombudsman be called in, adding: “There is an issue for the ombudsman. I think the issue is about proper procedure but also about fairness.
“The number and the scale of the developments they have taken away from Dorchester and Sherborne is now being put in Bridport and it is not equitable distribution of houses across the district and I think that is very, very wrong.”
Councillors voted to express their concern about consultation phases and agreed to ask the inspector to propose another consultation of the inclusion of 760 homes on Vearse Farm.
West Dorset District Council Hilary Jordan officer was at the meeting and explained the council had a statutory obligation to meet housing need. She said: “We don’t have the choice not to have development in our area. Over the life of this plan we are looking at more than 9,000 new houses in west Dorset.”
She also outlined numerous consultations that had taken place. People have until tomorrow to comment on the changes to the local plan and that can be done on the dorsetforyou website.