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Press Release: Response to Dorset Council Local Plan Cabinet update 26th July

10th August 2022 - updated

Dorset CPRE and Dorset Deserves Better alliance ask for more community consultation as Dorset Council delays Local Plan

Press release

Dorset Council (DC) has secured extra time to prepare its new Local Plan. Dorset CPRE and Dorset Deserves Better welcome this and call on the Council to use this time to consult and work openly with communities on a Local Plan that responds to local people’s concerns, priorities and needs.

DC’s statement to Cabinet on 26 July indicates that they will take more time to consider the new Local Plan for Dorset. The government has agreed the Council’s request to extend the deadline to 2026. The Dorset Local Plan will set the pattern of housing and other development for the next 15 years.

Dorset CPRE and Dorset Deserves Better welcome the delay and the Council’s aim to secure protection for Dorset from speculative development in the meantime. The removal of the “duty to cooperate” with neighbouring authorities also means it does not now need to make up for a shortfall of homes from the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area.

The Council’s statement summarises the key messages it received from the unprecedented 9,000 responses to consultation on the first draft Local Plan. Local people said loud and clear they want a Local Plan which delivers:

  •         The right development in the right places, and of the right quality.
  •          Lower housing numbers based on recent data, not the out-dated assumptions currently used.
  •         More truly affordable homes, social homes and affordable rental properties for Dorset’s working families and young people.
  •          Protection for Dorset’s unique natural environmentand Greenbelt.
  •          Action on the Climate and Ecological Emergencies.
  •        Necessary infrastructure including public transport, health and education services, and utilities.

Dorset CPRE shares our communities’ concerns and priorities. These set a mandate for Dorset Council to develop a genuinely local approach to the Local Plan for Dorset, including the key issues of housing numbers, locations and affordability.

We look forward to DC discussing with communities what housing numbers and locations they now have in mind. The Council’s reference to “more focus on new or significantly expanded settlements to help deliver the longer-term growth needs of Dorset” will ring alarm bells in some communities, particularly given concern regarding the 3,750 homes proposal for North Dorchester. DC referred earlier this year to 22,000 houses as against the earlier DC target of up to 39,000. This independent lower estimate of Dorset’s genuine and sustainable needs over the Local Plan period was supported by Dorset CPRE, Dorset Deserves Better and many communities. Since then, population projections have fallen further.

DC now say that Dorset can be a pilot for a new national approach to local plans, including “national development management policies” and “streamlined processes”. It will be vital that national systems do not contradict local communities’ needs and priorities. 10th August update: The DC statement has been corrected after a spokesperson for the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities (DLUHC) said that no such an agreement had been made and that Dorset had merely ‘asked’ it if it could change the rules. Dorset Council’s revised statement now reads: ‘We have asked for Dorset to be a pilot for a new national approach to local plans being introduced through revised national policy and legislation.’

Peter Bowyer, Chair of the Trustees of Dorset CPRE, says “We call on the Council to listen to our communities and stand up for the priorities and concerns that local people clearly expressed in consultation on the first draft Local Plan. We look forward to joining with local communities and councils, and with the Dorset Deserves Better partnership, in a positive and constructive discussion with the Council about the Local Plan that Dorset wants and needs”.

Giles Watts of the Dorset Deserves Better Campaign said “We welcome Dorset Council’s announcement which supports many of the issues we have been asking for. We applaud the council’s decision to listen to the concerns of local people and change direction in a way which we believe will be very positive for the future of Dorset. Nevertheless, we still have some concerns over the lack of emphasis on brownfield developments first and the impact of new greenfield developments on infrastructure and the natural environment. We believe that rewriting the Local Plan is a huge opportunity for the Council to progress a radically different and exciting vision of the future based on renewable energy, green jobs, care for the natural environment and, ultimately, supporting the needs of the people of Dorset. We hope that Dorset Council will now work with us to help create and deliver this new vision for our future”.


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