Concerns voiced over a ‘garden village’ at a packed public meeting in the Corn Exchange

Concerns voiced over a ‘garden village’ at a packed public meeting in the Corn Exchange

North East Dorchester View

More than 200 people packed into Dorchester Corn Exchange’s upstairs room to hear about proposals for a 4,000-home ‘garden village’ in countryside north of the town.
Many people had to listen from out in the corridor as councillors and Wessex Water’s head of catchment services, Paul Stanfield, addressed the meeting, hosted by the campaign group STAND – Save the Area North of Dorchester – among other speakers.
It’s clear the proposals have hit a collective nerve in Dorchester.
Writing to the WDM (see Letters), Furse Swann from Dorchester said: “It was made abundantly clear (at the meeting) that the present Conservative Dorset Council seemed to be set on the policy of building 4,000-plus new homes on land above the water meadows to the north of the town and to transform the small parish of Stinsford with a possible increase in population from the current 325 to something in the region of 14,000, regardless of concerns about the literary importance and heritage of its associations, the practical consequences with regard to water demands, the huge increase in the number of cars to be accommodated, the extra need for parking in town (where?), and the need for new facilities – schools, shops, surgeries, sewage etc.”
Labour’s Claudia Sorin also attended (see Politics).
She said: “A young woman put her hand up to speak.
“I was sure she was going to accuse the mostly middle-aged and older audience of nimbyism for protesting the proposed 4,000 homes.
“Instead she said the fields and water meadows were vitally important to her and her friends for walking, horse riding and generally for their mental health and wellbeing and that they would be devastated to lose this precious space.”
Mr Stanfield told the meeting that the entire development proposed in Dorset Council’s draft local plan is inside the Environment Agency’s water source protection zone.
He added: “We are having a town built in our water catchment area.
“The implications of this are what we are trying to work through.
“Wessex Water is not against this development per se, but are working with Environment Agency, Planners and Council to understand the risks , so we can make plans to deal with any water quality reductions in good time.”
Mr Stanfield said it was not possible to put a figure to the cost of a new water supply for the town and new waste water processing but it would run to millions of pounds.
STAND spokesman Alastair Nisbet said nearly 300 people took part in the meeting.
He said: “It’s clear people are not happy that a huge housing development in the countryside has been proposed by Dorset Council with inadequate supporting evidence and too little consultation.
“Two years after the consultation ended we still don’t have a viability assessment and many other key reports which should have been published before the draft plan.
“People are worried that this huge urban development will damage their town, their community and their lives.
“It is going to affect our water supply, sewage treatment, environment, infrastructure and much more. We don’t even know if it is viable or if there is a need because the council hasn’t done the work yet.”

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