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Dorset CPRE Calls on Dorset Council to Consult Communities on Key Policies for next Draft Local Plan

16th February 2023

The Dorset Local Plan will set the pattern of housing and other development for the next 20-30 years. It will shape our communities and play a vital role in the future of Dorset.

***  Update 15th February 2023 a summary of comments from the consultation of the draft Dorset Council Local Plan is now published on the Dorset Council website.

Press release

Dorset Council has said it will delay publication of the next version of the Local Plan until late 2024. Cllr Spencer Flower, Dorset Council Leader says: Officers have now commenced work on a comprehensive review of the draft Dorset Local Plan, which is scheduled to be put to members at Full Council in the third quarter of 2024, ahead of submission to the Secretary of State for an Examination in Public.

Although there will be a short period of consultation following publication, this consultation will be too late to influence the Local Plan which goes to Ministers and the Planning Inspectors. Dorset CPRE call on Dorset Council to give our communities a proper opportunity to comment on the Local Plan before it is sent to the Government.

Responses to consultation in March 2021 revealed local people’s deep disagreements with Dorset Council’s draft Local Plan. In July 2022, a Council statement summarised the key messages it received from the unprecedented 9,000 responses to consultation on the 2021 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 than the high numbers which the Council proposed to build. Official population projections for Dorset have fallen significantly since the Council produced its first draft Local Plan.

-          More truly affordable homes for Dorset’s working families and young people.

-          Protection for Dorset’s unique natural environment, including from pollution.

-          Action on the Climate and Ecological Emergencies.

-          Necessary infrastructure including public transport, health and education services, and utilities.

We share communities’ concerns and priorities. These set a mandate for Dorset Council to develop a genuinely local community-endorsed approach to the Local Plan for rural Dorset, including on the key issues of housing numbers, locations and affordability. To ensure that the next draft Local Plan addresses these issues, further engagement and consultation with communities is vital and increasingly urgent.

Dorset CPRE calls on the Council to listen to our communities and reflect the priorities and concerns that local people clearly expressed in consultation on the first draft Local Plan. The Council should publish and consult widely on draft strategies and policies which address each of the key concerns identified by communities in earlier consultation. The people of Dorset need reassurance that they will be consulted before such key policies are used to underpin the next version of the Local Plan.

We look forward to joining with local communities, and with the Dorset Deserves Better Campaign, in a positive and constructive discussion with the Council about a Local Plan that provides a long-term, sustainable approach to the challenges and opportunities facing Dorset.


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