CONCERNS have been raised after it emerged land to the south east of Dorchester could be earmarked for 1,000 new homes.
West Dorset District Council's executive committee has agreed to consult on the use of county town site as a location for future housing and employment.
A series of drop-in sessions will be held to seek public opinion on whether the land, between the Dorchestr bypass and he road to Broadmayne, should be included as an alternative site in the West Dorset Local Plan to locations currently put forward in the draft plan at Crossways, Beaminster and Sherborne.
However, Mayor of Dorchester and district councillor Andy Canning said he feels that, in addition new developments planned for the county town, a potential extension with another 1,000 homes risked asking too much of the town.
He said: “I have to admit that I'm concerned about adding an extra 1,000 plus homes for Dorchester in the next 20 years.
“We have already got Poundbury and the Brewery Square site and that's about 1,800 homes so to add an extra 1,000 seems too many.”
Councillor Canning said the problem appeared to be that the council's target of 9,400 homes was too high and will inevitably lead to housing being designated in areas where there is opposition to it.
He said: “That's what's driving the problem, they have got such a high target.”
West Dorset District Council leader Robert Gould said: “The Local Plan is very important for West Dorset as it will identify the sites for development to support future housing need.
“It is very important we gather the views of local people about how they want the future growth and development in the area managed.
“The consultation events regarding the proposed Dorchester site will be a valuable opportunity for local communities to actively share their views and participate in discussions and we urge people to come along and take part.”
The inclusion of the Dorchester site comes after feedback from the first round of consultation on the draft local plan showed strong opposition to the number of homes earmarked for Crossways and development proposals at Barton Farm in Sherborne and Hollymoor Lane in Beaminster.
At least 35 per cent of the 1,000 new homes proposed at Dorchester would be designated for affordable housing and the area could also include community facilities, offices and industrial units as well as improved road access.
Director for environment Dr David Evans confirmed in a meeting of the executive committee that the council was committed to the current extension to Dorchester at Poundbury and even if the land to the south east of the town were included in the Local Plan it was unlikely to come into consideration until Poundbury is completed.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW
The next round of consultation on the Local Plan will take place between January 31 and March 14, with more details available at http://www.dorsetforyou.com/newlocalplan/west/weymouth.
The first drop-in session will be held at the council's new offices at South Walks House in Dorchester on Wednesday February 27 from 1pm to 7pm.
Sessions will also be held at Digby Hall in Sherborne from 1pm to 7pm the following day and at Beaminster Town Hall from 1pm to 7pm on Tuesday March 5.
The final session will run from 1pm to 7pm on Wednesday March 6.