CAMPAIGNERS challenging plans for a development of more than 700 homes have lost a judicial review.

Advearse argued the former West Dorset District Council’s decision to grant outline planning permission for Vearse Farm, which lies on the edge of Bridport within Symondsbury parish, was open to legal challenge.

The main focus was on the fact that all of the development area lies within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

But Mr Justice Swift upheld the decision, though he said Advearse's criticisms were ‘well-founded.’

Speaking after the hearing, Advearse chairman Barry Bates said: "After fighting tooth and nail we have been let down at every stage of the planning process. The review was a last-ditch attempt to stop, or at best delay, this development. We are bitterly disappointed but accept that the courts are limited to looking at the legality of the process rather than the political or moral rights or wrongs of the case."

He added: "We hope that lessons have been learned, particularly now that we have a different council and are living in a different global and economic context."

Bridport town councillor and Advearse member Sarah Carney is calling for a review of national planning policy.'

Fellow campaigner and former district councillor David Tett claimed the houses at Vearse Farm won't not be affordable to local families or key workers.

"They will, however, attract retirees from the big cities and second-home owners, resulting in more traffic and unbearable pressure on our already desperately over-stretched health and social care services," he said.

Plans for Vearse Farm also include a 60-bed care home, school, employment space, a small local centre and associated playing fields, as well as other public open space and allotments. It also allows for a new road access from West Road and new pedestrian and cycle links.