Contact the Bridport News with your stories, pictures and video footage. Send us an email
Hold nerve on project, says councillor
1:00pm Thursday 18th October 2012 in News
A BRIDPORT councillor has weighed in to the controversy surrounding the redevelopment changing the face of Dorchester’s town centre.
District and town councillor David Tett spoke up at a meeting of West Dorset’s executive committee on the Charles Street development which will see new council offices and a regeneration of the central area of the county town previously dedicated to car parking.
Protesters are demanding public consultation on theCharles Street scheme in Dorchester.
They gathered as council leaders met to defend a bid to support the development with up to £2million of taxpayers’ money.
Opponents want the public to have their say on the controversial scheme and have launched a petition calling for full consultation before a decision is made.
West Dorset District Council’s executive committee considered a report that claimed phase two of the scheme was not viable in the current economic climate.
Members were warned that if the council does not support developer Simons, anchor stores Waitrose and Marks & Spencer could withdraw.
Coun Tett told the committee that it was not the time to ‘buckle at the knee and pull the plug’.
“The Charles Street development has been on the cards for the past 30 years and throughout it has proved a thorny and controversial issue.
“Indeed, I have had my own reservations and these were made known at an earlier stage in the proceedings.
“I fear that any delay might cause the bigger retail players to rethink their strategies and possibly move elsewhere.
“If this were to happen it would be a big loss to the county town. Moreover there would be a loss of jobs and the economy would suffer.”
Coun Tett added that the planned five-day display period for the revised proposals was not long enough.
Chief executive David Clarke said: “The danger is these anchor tenants might get frustrated and walk away.”
The committee backed an option to fund preparatory works to enable Simons to move forward as well as amending the original scheme to make it more viable.
The amendments include replacing some of the underground parking with a single-deck facility on the Fairfield market site and replacing the proposed hotel with 24 apartments.
Mr Clarke said: “This will deliver the council’s top priority in terms of the redevelopment of an important site. Importantly, it will also create not only 120 jobs during the construction phase but will bring 600 permanent jobs in the retail use of the site.”
The council’s member champion for environmental protection and assets Councillor Richard Jungius warned that if the scheme did not move forward, the consequences for the county town could be dire.
He said: “The one thing I’m convinced of is that if we don’t do this scheme, Dorchester as a shopping centre will die.”
The executive committee’s recommendations will now go forward for a final decision at the full council meeting on October 25.
The petition is at charlesstreetpetition.org.uk