TWO major figures have added their voices to the opposition against plans to build 1,000 homes on the edge of Dorchester.

Downton Abbey creator Lord Fellowes and former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion have spoken out against the inclusion of an area of land to the south east of the county town, known as Came View, in the draft local plan for development in West Dorset.

The land, part of which is owned by the Duchy of Cornwall, was earmarked for housing and employment after opposition to sites proposed in the original draft local plan at Beaminster, Cross-ways and Sherborne.

The consultation process on the proposals has now finished and councillors at West Dorset District Council will consider in May whether to include Came View in the final plan.

The site lies close to the former home of author Thomas Hardy at Max Gate and poet William Barnes at Came Rectory, with the landscape featuring heavily in the work of both writers.

The proposal drew the attention of poet and president of the Campaign to Protect Rural Eng-land Sir Andrew when he discussesed the threat of development on England’s countryside and how profit was being put before beauty and history.

He said: “You go to Dorchester and somebody wants to build on a field that Thomas Hardy walked across to go to William Barnes’s funeral, you go to Slad and somebody is mucking up Cider with Rosie country, you go to Mevagissey in Cornwall and somebody is building expensive sea-view houses on a greenfield site, completely trashing the wishes of the locals.

“It’s happening everywhere you look and it’s only going to get worse.

“It’s just grotesque, what is happening, and it’s irreversible.”

Oscar-winning screenwriter and peer Lord Fellowes felt moved to write to the district council to set out his opposition to the plans.

He highlighted the international attention Hardy attracted to the area and the importance of the local landscape to both he and Barnes.

Lord Fellowes stated: “The destruction of Came Valley is a very serious matter, nor is it a plan that could be lightly entered into by any who present themselves as protectors of Dorchester, so it is difficult to understand how it could have got this far, sponsored apparently by the council.”

He added: “This plan is the abdication of your proper duty to preserve Dorchester and what is interesting about Dorchester during your tenure, to be enjoyed by future generations.”

New school could be required if homes are built

THE proposal to build 1,000 homes could require a new school to be built.

West Dorset District Council and Weymouth and Portland Borough Council has been consulting on a revised local plan which includes a proposal to build 1,000 homes to the south east of the county town in an area of land known as Came View.

Members of Dorset County Council’s cabinet received a report outlining the authority’s response to the consultation process.

Director for environment Miles Butler explained that the county council was being consulted as a provider of services and infrastructure and this formed the bases of the response.

It also addressed the potential need for a new first school on the site to accommodate for the increase in population and the possibility of a new middle school that would also accommodate for proposed development at Crossways.

The response went on to highlight the issue of flooding, stating that ‘any further development should make allowance for surface water management and prevailing ground conditions via the incorporation of sustainable drainage technologies’.