Corfe Castle calls People’s Assembly to discuss Dorset Local Plan

Residents across Purbeck are being given the opportunity to share their thoughts on the Dorset Local Plan, a document compiled by Dorset Council that will guide decisions on planning applications until 2038.

Corfe Castle Parish Council is issuing an informal invite to a People’s Assembly on the Dorset Local Plan that will take place on Tuesday 2nd March 2021 at 7.30 pm via Zoom.

There’s currently a consultation on the local plan by Dorset Council asking for people’s views. It is hoped the event by Corfe Castle Parish Council will help demystify this complex document. Areas for discussion will include:

  • What is the Dorset housing need?
  • How do we ensure affordable housing?
  • What views do we have about second homes?
  • What does the local plan mean for Purbeck?
  • How does the local plan fit with climate emergency and nature recovery?
One of the fields in Swanage, where housing in proposed

One of the fields in Swanage, where housing is proposed

Plans for Swanage

The plans for Swanage include designating a green field site near the Prospect Allotments for 150 homes and identifying land on the corner of Ulwell Road and Washpond Lane as a possible location for a gypsy and traveller site for two caravans.

The Dorset Local Plan also says that Swanage would benefit from a larger supermarket and identifies land at three locations in the town centre that would be suitable:

  • Between the railway station and Kings Road West
  • The former depot site at the junction of Court Road and Kings Road West
  • The Post Office sorting office on Kings Road East
One of the fields in Swanage, where housing in proposed

Another of the fields in Swanage, where housing is proposed

Key points of the debate

Housing

Critics question the need to build more housing in Swanage, especially on a green field site outside the current settlement boundary and within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

However it’s also claimed that there are more people who want to live in Swanage than there are homes to buy or rent.

Gypsy and traveller site

Others question the suitability of the land identified for a gypsy and traveller site. In the Dorset Local Plan it says that the area is not suitable for housing due to the flood risk and some argue that this makes it equally unsuitable for people living in caravans, alongside other issues.

However allocating a suitable site would provide the traveller community with somewhere to live and helps to avoid unauthorised land being occupied.

Town centre

The need for a greater choice of supermarkets, especially a lower cost one like Aldi or Lidl is welcomed by many, but does it need to be in the centre of town, which would restrict its size? It is argued by some, that a larger store on the outskirts would be more practical.

Map of the proposed development areas for Swanage

“I would like to find out if Swanage wants an Aldi”

Councillor Gary Suttle who represents Swanage on Dorset Council said:

“When I had the role of Economic Growth for Dorset Council, I had a couple of meetings with Aldi, over a site in Weymouth but they also mentioned other towns they would love to come to and Swanage was one. The local plan wishes to see retail mainly in the town centre and this probably rules out any other supermarket coming to Swanage.

“I would like to find out if Swanage wants an Aldi – if they do they need to respond to that section in the plan. If not, by all means stick with what we have.

“My experience is that shopping for my main food shop is quite expensive in Swanage and when in Aldi or Lidl or any big supermarket out of town, I always meet Swanage people shopping. There are arguments for and against – one is that an out of town supermarket will kill the town centre, but will it?

“I am not advocating any change to asking chains to come here. We don’t need burger places from big chains or chain coffee shops. We already have some of the best independent shops anywhere and we must not threaten their businesses. This is all about shopping local and staying local, but to do so you must be able to buy what you need on an everyday basis.”

Sheep in one of the fields in Swanage, where housing in proposed

Planet Purbeck

Questioning the council’s consideration of the climate and ecological emergency in the local plan, is the environmental group, Planet Purbeck. Spokesperson, Ruth Carpenter said:

“Dorset Council declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency in May 2019. Is this local plan consistent with the overarching need to address such an Emergency? This is the question that Planet Purbeck is considering and we would urge all who care, to respond to the consultation.

“We owe it to future generations to ensure our council places nature recovery and a just transition to net zero carbon at the heart of its strategy and plans for development.”

Dorset CPRE

The countryside charity, Dorset CPRE is critical of what it calls a ‘cut and paste’ cumbersome strategy by Dorset Council in regard to the local plan. Its chair of trustees, Peter Bowyer said:

“Dorset Council has not created an imaginative county wide local plan. Where are the fresh ideas for the unique character and future needs of Dorset? We have instead been presented with questionable assumptions, proposals for excessive housing numbers which will threaten our communities and a “cut and paste” cumbersome strategy.

“There has been no adequate consultation on this draft local plan despite offers from many organisations to input evidence and ideas.

“Dorset CPRE calls upon Dorset Council to think again. Revisit the timetable and documents. Take a new approach to both. Lay firmer foundations for the processes of the Dorset Local Plan. Do this now by providing the community with real opportunities to contribute to the future of their county”.

Dorset Council

Responding to criticisms about holding the consultation during the Covid crisis, councillor David Walsh, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for planning, said:

“We haven’t been able to go to towns and hold information events for people to ask their questions because of the pandemic.

“Instead, the team have approached consultation with innovative solutions such as increasing the availability of the team to respond to questions, trying to explain planning in new ways through webinars and podcasts and using an interactive consultation to make it as easy as possible for our residents to find out about the plan and submit their comments.

“We have used our social media channels and online advertising to expand our audience as well as using local radio stations and newspapers. In fact the activity that is happening is much more than we’ve ever done before and we are reaching many more people.

“This is the time for local residents to have their say on the future of Dorset. We want to get everyone’s views on the consultation proposals.”

Consultation runs until Monday 15th March 2021

The Dorset Council consultation runs until Monday 15th March 2021.

Following this initial consultation, the Dorset Local Plan will go through several phases and will include a further chance for feedback on the ‘soundness’ of the plan. It will also be scrutinised by the Planning Inspectorate before its adoption.

The eventual adoption of the Dorset Local Plan will supersede the Swanage Local Plan. It will also supersede the Purbeck Local Plan, which is currently being scrutinised by the Planning Inspectorate and is expected to be adopted within the next few months.

Further information

  • Join the Corfe Castle People’s Assembly on Tuesday 2nd March 2021 at 7.30 pm via Zoom using this link. Telephone 0203051 2874 and enter Meeting ID: 85788938670.
  • Information about Swanage is on pages 64 to 70 in the Dorset Council Local Plan Options Consultation document – Volume 2 – South Eastern Dorset (January 2021)
  • Gypsy and traveller site allocations are detailed in the Dorset Council Local Plan Options Consultation document – Appendices 1-5 (January 2021)
  • To comment on the Dorset Local Plan, a form is available on the Dorset Council website

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