ENOUGH is enough – councillors have decided against a housing developments off Beaminster’s East Street until road safety can be improved.

They have rejected an application to demolish a bungalow and build five homes on a large garden site running parallel to the narrow street which has no pavement.

Several councillors claimed that to put more traffic on the street and with a site access they consider dangerous would be too much of a risk to road users and pedestrians.

Their unanimous decision came despite the advice of highways officers that the site junction was acceptable and that their vote could risk a costly planning appeal.

Dorset Council’s west and southern planning committee also said there were no grounds for allowing the housing scheme outside of the area’s defined development boundary and that there would be an unacceptable loss of grassland which is home to some Dorset ‘notable’ species.

The application has been controversial from the start having been deferred for a site visit following a previous two hour debate which failed to reach a conclusion. That visit then failed to take place because of Covid restrictions.

Dozens of letters had been sent to the council opposing the proposals to demolish the bungalow at 82 East Street and build five new homes on the site.

Many were concerned about road safety, others worried about wildlife, overlooking of neighbouring homes and potential drainage problems.

But for most councillors the main focus was on the safety of the road access to the site and the effect of extra traffic in East Street for both pedestrians and drivers.

Cllr Kate Wheller said it was likely there would be at least 14 car movements each day in and out of the site: “I can’t see for the life of me how those cars can access the site safely, which is a shame because it’s a good site,” she told the area planning committee.

The online meeting also heard that larger vehicles would have difficulty getting onto the site and it was likely that refuse lorries would have to stop in the road, completely blocking it, while collecting rubbish and recycling.

Highways officer Guy Tetley said he believed the council would have difficulty in maintaining a refusal on road safety ground if it went to appeal. He said the road was characterised by difficult accesses and many drivers were forced to reverse out into oncoming traffic. He said he doubted if the additional traffic from four extra homes would be substantial enough to warrant refusing the scheme.

But his argument failed to wash with councillors. Said Cllr David Shortell : “You can’t get away from the fact that this is a narrow street without pavements and any number of homes on this site will add to the problem.”

Cllr Sarah Williams said the street was frequently used by pedestrians to walk into Beaminster: “I just can’t see this being suitable for the number of houses and the potential number of cars going in and out,” she said.

The homes, in two terraces, were proposed using an existing access, which would have been widened, with the plot running to the rear between 60 and 90 East Street.

A petition and more than forty comments had been lodged opposing the plans together with several individual letters and a formal objection from the town council.

Plans for the three 3-bed and two 4-beds homes have been changed since first lodged with the council with the two blocks moved further away from neighbouring homes and some house end walls designed with no windows, or small windows, to avoid overlooking.

A petition signed by residents in East Street, Woodswater and Hollymoor Lane said they oppose the scheme because of the ‘obvious and apparent danger’ of the narrow road and restricted entrance to the site and the extra burden on what the petition describes as a ‘dated’ sewage system.

Letters also said that the site was higher than some homes in East Street which would result in overlooking and that the 14 car parking spaces, including two garages, would lead to unacceptable levels of additional traffic.

The motion unanimously approved by the committee said that the site is outside the defined development boundary and is not for affordable housing so as such does not constitute an ‘exception’ site; the benefit of four extra homes would not outweigh the harm in permitting a development outside the Defined Development Boundary.

The development will generate further traffic and pedestrian movements in East Street; the site access is narrow and lacking any visibility splays…without an improvement plan for the street this development would be likely to cause danger and inconvenience to all highway users resulting in a severe impact on highway safety.

That the proposed development would result in the unacceptable loss of semi-improved grassland in which are present Dorset Notable species and as such the development would adversely impact on biodiversity.

Illustration - East Street site plan