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Sad day for local democracy as Wyatt Homes Blandford development approved

View over site of Wyatt Homes approved development on rolling downland in the parish of Pimperne View over site of Wyatt Homes approved development on rolling downland in the parish of Pimperne

26th October 2023

Press Release from North Dorset CPRE, Pimperne Parish Council and Cranborne Chase AONB 

This week the Northern Area Planning Committee for Dorset Council approved by 7-1 the application by Wyatt Homes to build 490 homes between Blandford and Pimperne. North Dorset CPRE, Pimperne Parish Council, the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and local residents had been campaigning to stop this development on the following key grounds:

  • Housing needs were well provided for already in North Dorset, especially in Blandford and Pimperne.
  • Questionable evidence of the need for a new school, which would be paid for by Section 106 developer funding tied to this application.
  • Harm to the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), on whose land some of the development would be built.
  • Conflict with Pimperne’s Neighbourhood Plan, as 150 homes would be built within their parish.

News last month that there was now more than a five year housing land supply in North Dorset with planning decisions supposedly following development plans, made campaigners more confident that they stood a good chance of stopping the developers. Housing targets in the North Dorset Local Plan for Blandford Forum and St Mary, as well as in the surrounding villages had been exceeded thanks to a massive building programme in recent years. There was little evidence of the need for a new school with data showing declining school rolls, and if there was need later, surely this could be achieved more cheaply with a few extra classrooms? Granting permission would also result in severe traffic congestion for Blandford and place more pressure on Blandford’s creaking infrastructure. The AONB would be harmed with views to and from the AONB seriously affected, and good farmland, which contributes to food security and acts as a carbon sink against climate change, sacrificed. 150 dwellings would be built in the parish of Pimperne, threatening the important “gap “ between the village and Blandford, in direct conflict with Pimperne’s recently re-made Neighbourhood Plan.  

The planning officer’s report acknowledged that there was a conflict with the council’s development plan, which said building in the countryside should be resisted. However committee members seemed determined to approve yet more housing, with little regard for the harm it would cause to local residents, the AONB and Pimperne. Admittedly the development is well designed, but is clearly in the wrong place. One wonders about the composition of the committee with no members on it representing Blandford. One can also speculate that Dorset Council was keen to avoid a costly appeal should they have refused it.

It was particularly galling for Pimperne Parish Council Chairman Peter Slocombe who spent hundreds of hours with volunteers to create the Neighbourhood Plan, which was flouted both here and in a previous recent planning application, that Pimperne will receive no Section 106 benefits at all. He said: “It is a sad day for local democracy. This decision sends a clear message to Dorset villages that it is hardly worth creating these Plans that were initiated by the government over a decade ago.”

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