CAMPAIGNERS who opposed plans for 286 new homes in Sherborne now aim to fight for special heritage status to protect the town from over development.
The Sherborne and District Society of the Campaign to Protect Rural England decided last week that it would pursue its hope to have Sherborne classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The strategy follows the approval of 286 homes at Barton Farm in September despite fierce opposition from the society and residents.
As well as the new homes, the plans include a 60-bed care home, commercial units, renovations to listed farm buildings for office use and a flood-defence scheme.
More than 200 people attended the three-hour West Dorset District Council planning meeting when the plans were approved in September.
Around 20 public speakers objected to the development, saying it would place strains on the town’s infrastructure, roads and drainage.
But the site had been originally earmarked for around 800 homes in the district council’s local plan for the area.
The society is hoping that when the new version of the local plan is presented to the policy group of the district council in January the proposal for Barton Farm will be left at no more than the current approved scheme.
And they hope to have Sherborne classed as an AONB in case similar plans arise again in the future.
Peter Neal, chairman of the society, said: “If Sherborne was classed as a place with historical significance and natural beauty then planners would have to take a much greater account of what was going to be developed.
“We think historic heritage towns, not just Sherborne, should be recognised and have a special position when it comes to looking at planning and development.”
“We hope the revised local plan will leave Barton Farm with what has already been approved.
“But even if the 800 is left off the agenda this time it still might happen in the future, and AONB status could protect places like Sherborne from having large developments popping up on its periphery.”
Mr Neal said the society is also hoping that the revised plans will preserve the strip of land near the river Yeo between Yeovil and Sherborne as green space.
He warned that achieving the society’s aims to have Sherborne classed as an AONB would be a long process and, at this early stage, it was impossible to predict success.