COUNCIL chiefs preparing to fight a plan to build up to 170 homes at Weymouth Football Club admit there is a flaw in their main argument due to criticism over future housing supply calculations.
The battle to redevelop at the Bob Lucas Stadium is to be thrashed out at a public inquiry after Wessex Delivery LLP appealed West Dorset District Council’s decision to refuse.
But the council’s main defence – that the ground is not in an agreed development area and that a five-year plan for housing is already in place – is ‘fatally compromised’ because housing targets have come under fire, and figures in the local plan it is working on with Weymouth and Portland Borough Council have had to be reviewed.
The council’s argument is ‘certain to fail’ and would lead to a bill for costs, a report says.
Instead it will have to be fought on the grounds there will be a loss of playing fields and there is not enough affordable housing, open space and local amenities in line with policies.
A report to Thursday’s development control committee says the position has changed due to recent appeal decisions which have criticised the use of the local plan target to demonstrate a five-year land supply for housing. This includes the inspector deciding the Curtis Fields application in Weymouth.
It comes as the district and borough councils were forced to look again at their joint draft local plan for development after a planning inspector raised questions about the proposed housing supply.
After months of further work, officers are now proposing a provision of more than 100 homes a year extra – 775 units compared to previous projection of between 617 and 661 per annum.
This translates as 15,500 homes over the 20-year plan period, compared to an original figure of between 12,340 and 13,220.
A number of controversial sites were withdrawn from the original plan during public consultation, including land to the south east of Dorchester allocated for 1,000 homes.
A report to the district council’s executive committee today states: “A number of sites have been subject to consultation previously and taken out of the plan, and the majority of these would all need to be brought back into the plan if the requirement to 2031 were to be met.”
However, with a need to get a local plan in place as soon as possible, a better approach would be a plan with a housing supply until 2028.
With revised work seeing the housing supply figure the council is currently able to put forward raised to 13,749 without the need for any further development allocations, this would would be sufficient to cover until 2028.
A further 1,751 homes would be needed to extend the period until 2031.
The move could see Weymouth and Portland taking some of the brunt for West Dorset during the first phase.
Councillors will be asked to revise the housing requirement and revise the plan period to 2028.
County and district councillor Andy Canning said he hoped the need for more homes would not see sites like the one on the edge of Dorchester put back on the agenda.
He said: “We need to look at sites within the town such as the prison to meet some of the requirements.”