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Opposition may see axing of Sherborne homes plan

By Western Gazette - Sherborne  |  Posted: January 10, 2013

Sherborne (Photo: David Townsend)

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PLANS to allocate 800 homes in Sherborne within the next 30 years could be dropped due to overwhelming public opposition.

A report will be presented to West Dorset District Council’s executive committee on Tuesday to remove the allocation of additional housing at Barton Farm, to the north west of Sherborne, from the council’s local plan.

The strategy maps out future development in the town.

Last year hundreds of residents opposed the allocation.

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The plan was due to be adopted in October but now officers are calling for it to be shelved until February 2014, after another public consultation and amendments are made.

If approved by the committee, a fresh public consultation would be launched at the end of January until mid-March.

In the report Hilary Jordan, spatial and community policy manager at the district council, said there were “very significant” levels of objection to some proposals.

She commented: “The proposal to extend the existing Barton Farm allocation has led to significantly higher numbers of comments than for any of the other proposals.”

Residents had called for more appropriate, discreet expansion in the town, while others questioned the strains development would put on the town’s roads, health and education infrastructure.

Matt Hall, Sherborne town councillor, said: “It is great news that some of the concerns held by the people of Sherborne have been listened to.

“From the various meetings on the issue and the great response I had to petitions, it seemed clear people felt such a large development was not appropriate for our town.”

The report also suggests a re-assessment of allocations in Beaminster and Crossways, but maintains that, according to 2011 census figures, the level of development in West Dorset recommended by the plan is still required.

Andy Canning, a district councillor for Dorchester North, attended a private members meeting last month where the report was discussed.

He revealed there was an implication to focus additional development in Dorchester instead.

He said: “I think this is something the council needs to look at again.

“I have no doubt the recommendation to alter the local plan will be accepted by the committee.

But Robin Legg, Bradford Abbas district councillor and a member of the development control committee, said there is still no guarantee the Barton Farm extension would be thrown out altogether.

He pointed out: “The plan still faces a public inquiry and an inspector could still say the development is needed.

“We are by no means out of the woods yet.

“We just need to be vigilant and be prepared.”

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