Residents views sought over area development plan

Dorset Echo: CONSULTATION: County residents talk to a council official in South Walk offices CONSULTATION: County residents talk to a council official in South Walk offices

RESIDENTS are urged to attend a meeting on a masterplan for development in Weymouth and West Dorset.

Ros Kayes, Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman for West Dorset, said a government inspector calling a meeting after questioning data in the draft local plan is ‘highly disturbing news’.

Government inspector Paul Crysell has called a meeting with Weymouth and Portland and West Dorset after raising concerns about the document.

The plan, which runs to 2031, identifies where new homes and employment sites can be built, how the environment can be protected and ways for boosting the economy.

The meeting will be at 10am at the West Dorset District Council Offices in South Walks on January 22.

Ros Kayes, Liberal Democrat parliamentary spokesman for West Dorset, said she is worried. She said residents in Dorchester and Bridport could be ‘up in arms’ at any suggestion of more homes in the plan. She said: “This is highly disturbing news. There are two issues here – firstly, did West Dorset District Council consult properly?

“Many residents think not.

“Secondly, if the council has to approve extra housing, when residents already think there is too much, then the plan is in real trouble. This could be where the cracks in the new National Planning Policy Framework really begin to show – because as a piece of legislation it was rushed through.

“If a plan is declared ‘unsound’ developers have the automatic right to build.

“No-one wants to see extra housing imposed on us from above.”

Weymouth and West Dorset councils are producing a joint plan for the first time and say they have followed procedures correctly and are ‘frustrated’ by the hold up, which will delay the process.

Council bosses said there had been ‘wide consultation’ resulting in clear support for most of the proposals.

Concerns raised by the inspector include how West Dorset is dealing with cross border planning matters.

Mr Crysell said the plan appeared to be a ‘reaction and counter-reaction to representations rather than a well-honed strategy addressing difficult issues facing both authorities.’ The public are invited to attend the January 22 meeting, but not to comment on what is in the plan.

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