COUNCILLORS have spoken of the need to move forward with the local plan for West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland after backing changes.

The local plan was suspended earlier this year after concerns were raised by a planning inspector.

Further work has now been done to assess the housing needs in the area, with officers now increasing the proposed housing supply by more than 100 homes a year.

With the initial draft plan proposing a housing requirement of between 617 and 661, the councils are now recognising a need for 775 new dwellings a year across the whole plan area.

Spatial and community policy manager Hilary Jordan, above, told a meeting of West Dorset District Council’s executive committee that the requirement could be met through existing proposed allocations for development across the whole of the area, as long as the plan period was reduced from 2031 to 2028.

Further review work will be carried out during the plan period to identify sites for allocation after 2028.

Mrs Jordan said that the proposal was to now consult on the changes before submitting the draft local plan.

She said the consultation would be much quicker than if new areas were being put forward for housing allocations.

Mrs Jordan added: “One advantage of proceeding in this way is it means it won’t cause too much delay because while we will consult on that change, it would not need to be as big a consultation as we would have had to do if we had been putting further allocations in there.”

She added: “We would certainly be able to go back to the inspector and show we have addressed his particular concerns so it should put us in a good position.”

Cllr Sarah East, below, the council’s housing champion, said one of the main reasons for increasing the housing supply to 775 homes a year was to allow for growth.

She said: “We must allow for growth and jobs in the area and by upping the figures to this we think we have done all we can to meet that requirement.

“It’s really important that we get on with the plan and get it adopted.”