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Draft Local Plan’s Housing Strategy

1st November 2021

PR-1: Dorset Council Receives Crushing Rejection of the Draft Local Plan’s Housing Strategy

Press release

Is Dorset Council hoping to hide the scale of the opposition to the 39,000 plus housing target in the Draft Local Plan? The recently published summary of responses to the draft Local Plan (LP) has revealed overwhelming opposition to Dorset Council’s housing strategy, disguised as a misleadingly low number of responses. This was achieved by recording the submission of each town and parish council as a single response and by incorrect categorisation of many of their responses.

A search for DEV1: Do you agree with the suggested approach and what it is trying to achieve? suggests only 460 responses, of whom 72% disagree. Although this shows a rejection, it is highly misleading. Amongst the responses are the names of Town and Parish Council Clerks, who represent over 108,000 residents between them. As statutory consultees, the views of Town and Parish Councils should be easily accessible but the alphabetical listing of responses by first name, rather than surname, makes this more difficult. Discovering the true scale of opposition to the LP is further complicated by the fact that responses are recorded in the name of individuals, rather than their organisations. Who would know that the Dorset CPRE response can only be found under the name of Chairman Peter Bowyer, or Jo Witherden - the Planning Consultant who put together our submission to the Draft Local Plan. All of this seems like an effort to hide the reality, or at best it is a poor collation.

CPRE also found numerous examples of respondents who had comments to make on housing policy, but their comments have been recorded elsewhere. Places such as Wimborne Minster are unable to support the LP, but have confined their comments, understandably, to their own town – as have Weymouth, whose own affordable housing needs are not at all met by this plan. CPRE identified the representatives of a further 124,000 residents of Dorset towns and villages, who do not agree with the housing proposals.

Peter Bowyer, the Chairman of Trustees of Dorset CPRE, commented “Our analysis, which is ongoing, was made much more difficult since each response was filed under the name of the respondent. This is fine for individual people but the Parish Clerk of, for example, Corfe Mullen, is responding on behalf of 10,000 residents and the Town Clerk of Dorchester represents over 21,000.”

Dorset CPRE will be requesting a meeting with the chairs of Dorset Council’s Northern, Southern/Western and Eastern Planning Committees to outline their case that Dorset Council should claim exceptional circumstances to reduce the number of planned homes, following the example of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council.



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