LAWYERS have been called in to challenge a planning application for more than 700 homes.

Campaigners say the Vearse Farm development, near Bridport, will ‘set a dangerous precedent’ if it goes ahead and have raised enough funding to proceed with a judicial review.

Having raised the £31,500 of the £34k needed to go ahead with the review, campaign group Advearse says ‘after much deliberation and discussion’ with lawyers, and having discussed the strengths and weaknesses of its case, it has decided to proceed.

Chairman Barry Bates said: “As the arguments were complicated we have taken time over the past few days to raise further questions and make sure we have a clear understanding of the situation and all our options.

“This is a vital environmental case because this would be the biggest ever development built on AONB land and, if left unchallenged, it will set a dangerous precedent allowing developers and councils to ignore the rules protecting the countryside nationwide.”

Dorset Council issued a decision notice on the planning application on May 2, after which time Advearse had six weeks to raise more than £30k.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England, which has also been included in legal discussions, promised to help the campaign with match-funding.

Advearse treasurer Phil Summerton said: “We are humbled and grateful for the fantastic support of local people, the CPRE and people from wider Dorset and beyond.

“We have close to 300 donors who have made direct donations and pledges on our Crowdfunder campaign site.

The overwhelming support and feedback we have received has been a great motivating factor in our decision to proceed with the review.”

The development of 700 homes also includes a 60-bed care home, school and employment space on the outskirts of Bridport.

Not everyone is in agreement with Advearse, and it has been argued Bridport is in desperate need of housing.