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Blandford St Mary under threat from unwanted speculative development

View north east from Ward’s Drove over development site View north east from Ward’s Drove over development site

4th January 2024

Press Release from North Dorset CPRE and Blandford St Mary Parish Council

Hallam Land Management, a land promoter not builder, has applied to get planning permission for 135 homes in Blandford St Mary, just south of Blandford. It is a revised iteration of an earlier application to build 150 which was attracting considerable criticism from Dorset Council’s planning team, Blandford Town Council, Blandford St Mary Parish Council (BSMPC) and other consultees. They are hoping this revised one will gain more traction, but it has already met opposition from BSMPC, Blandford Town Council and North Dorset CPRE.

The proposed scheme offers little or no benefit to Blandford St Mary but rather swamps the“hamlet“ of Lower Blandford St Mary and its listed church and houses. Moreover the ancient way of Ward’s Drove will lose its definition. North Dorset is in the fortunate position that it now has a housing land supply in excess of five years so decisions should follow the development plan, whereas before there was a tilted balance engaging a presumption in favour of sustainable development. The housing target for Blandford Forum and St Mary in the North Dorset Local Plan is at least 1200 homes, and the September 2023 Housing Land Supply report showed that 1225 homes will be delivered by 2031. There is no need for more housing, particularly since the recent approval of a further 490 homes in north Blandford and Pimperne, and certainly not for this speculative development on a site unallocated by both the North Dorset Local Plan and the Blandford + Neighbourhood Plan.
 
The site is unsustainable with most shops and services well over a mile away so residents are likely to be highly car dependent, which weighs heavily against the scheme at a time of climate emergency. It will result in ribbon development threatening the green corridor that separates BSM from Charlton Marshall, and the separate identity of both villages. Blandford’s infrastructure, particularly its schools and medical practice, is already under serious strain. Traffic conditions are poor already while the approval of 490 homes in north Blandford recently will exacerbate the situation, and this scheme would make it even worse. Road access onto the site will be difficult, if not dangerous. The land promoter has reduced the number of homes to reduce density, allowing more tree planting and open spaces, but the development is still likely to cause harm to the adjacent Cranborne Chase National Landscape (formerly AONB) and the setting of the historic heart of Blandford St Mary with many listed buildings. Furthermore there will be the loss of good arable land which should be producing food at a time of concern over food security, and retain its role as a carbon sink. This development should be refused, particularly as no one knows which builder Hallam will sell the site onto, once approved, and the quality of the houses that are finally built here.
 
Cllr Malcolm Albery, Chair of BSMPC, said: "Blandford St Mary Parish and its environment is being destroyed by unnecessary development. The only beneficiaries of this scheme being the landowner and Hallam Group."
 
Local residents are encouraged to comment on the Dorset Council Planning Portal at https://planning.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/ (Planning Application P/OUT/2023/07266) up to the 16th January.

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