The East Dorset Group is presently without a Chairman or Secretary. In the absence
of these two officers, Richard Heaslip is “holding the fort” and submits this report.
East Dorset – threat to Green Belt?
The Dorset Campaign to Protect Rural England is calling on East Dorset District Council
to change the way it shapes its proposed planning strategy. CPRE fears the existing
process could see more building on Green Belt land.
We would like the district council to take on board recent Government thinking from
the Localism Bill and allow planning policy to be driven by local communities at
level. In particular it would like the district council to foster parish councils
who would like to embrace the concept of Neighbourhood Plans to do so.
The council published a district-wide draft planning policy document on 17 January
2012 which has further housing in Green Belt areas as one of its core points – yet,
we understand, there was no widespread consultation on this with all East Dorset
District Councillors, nor parish councils. CPRE is also concerned that a meeting
in March, when this socalled ‘options plan’ was discussed with a view to it being
out for consultation, was declared an ‘extraordinary meeting’ of the council at which
local residents may attend, but not speak.
“CPRE argues that if this remains the case, the process is hardly in the spirit of
the Government’s Big Society and declared aims of improving openness and consultation
local government,” said Dorset CPRE Director, Trevor Bevins. There are further concerns
about the way the authority has managed a meeting of the council’s policy committee
Ferndown on February 1, which severely limited the ability of local people to make
their representations on Green Belt building and other issues.
The threat to the Green Belt in South East Dorset has now crystallised, with the
approval by the District Council on 5 March the "Christchurch and East Dorset Core
Strategy Pre-Submission Consultation". This innocent sounding document contains a
threat to South
East Dorset’s Green Belt as substantial as that posed by the last Government’s unlamented
Regional Spatial Strategy. Namely, 2230 houses are planned for building in new estates
in the green belt at Corfe Mullen, Wimborne, Verwood, Ferndown and West Parley. The
public consultation lasting from 2 April to 25 June.
The Dorset Branch of CPRE will be playing a full part in opposing these unnecessary
invasions of the green belt. It is important that all CPRE members make their voices
heard on this issue. It is expected that following the consultation period and further
approval by the District Council the building plans will go to an independent Planning
Enquiry in mid 2013.
If you would like to help, please get in touch with Richard Heaslip 01202 594982