The value of Neigbourhood Plans has been brought into question by a planning decision for a new home just outside Loders village.

A Dorset Council area planning committee heard that despite local voices being against the home there was little option in planning terms but to accept it – or face a costly appeal which councillors were told they would probably lose.

Lib Dem opposition group leader Nick Ireland said the decision undermined the value of the Neighbourhood Plan which local people had spent hundreds of hours working on. He said it meant the village was now paying a penalty for being one of the first in Dorset to adopt its plan in July 2016.

He said the decision meant that the Loders Neighbourhood Plan, which 84 per cent of local people had voted for, was now ‘almost worthless’ and that people in the area would be angry about that.

He also said that the decision, backed by officers, was another example of the council ignoring defined development boundaries.

“You are either outside it, or inside it, otherwise there is no point in having one, and this is outside it,” he said.

Dorset Council has maintained that Neighbourhood Plans are a useful tool which help local communuties guide development, in the way that they want, in their area.

Opposition to the new home, at West Combe, Smishops Lane, had also come from Loders parish council which said that the site was not only in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but was outside of the defined development boundary for the village, where planning applications are normally refused, and within the area conservation area.

Ward councillor Tony Alford also spoke against the application saying it did nothing to enhance to AONB or the conservation area and was contrary to several planning policies designed to protect the natural environment.

He suggested that had the site not been screened by trees council officers would have recommended refusing the application.

The three-bed ‘traditional’ design home of stone, timber and slate, on the southern slopes of Waddon Hill, will be built on the site of an existing barn which will be demolished.

A planning officer told the committee that because of the trees on the site the new home would have no impact on the wider landscape or the conservation area and was considered a ‘sustainable’ location within a few minutes walk of the village primary school and pub.

Diana May, who was one of the steering committee for the Loders Neighbourhood Plan, said Dorset Council had let the area down by not having met the five-year housing target set by the Government which, she said, in turn, undermined neighbourhood plans and the county-wide Local Plan.

“Dorset Council is letting us down. There has been no liaison and feedback between parish councils and Dorset Council on its failure to demonstrate a five-year housing supply and the implications for plan policies,” she said.

A planning officer’s report to the committee suggested councillors approve the application: “Overall, it is considered that there are no material harmful effects that would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the social, economic and environmental benefits of the development… In the light of the current housing land supply position (less than the Government target of 5 years), the proposal to replace the existing agricultural building would make a small but positive contribution to the supply of housing where there are no other obvious and adverse planning impacts to justify a refusal of planning permission.”