NEW plans for Dorchester's controversial Charles Street development are set to go on display in the town.

Developers Simons are set to submit revised plans to West Dorset District Council and before they do so are giving the public the chance to see the latest proposals.

Residents will get the chance to have their say at an exhibition at the Bryter Latte shop at the bottom of South Street from 10am to 7pm on Friday, July 18 and from 10am to 3.30pm on Saturday, July 19.

A spokesman for Simons said: “Feedback forms will be available on both days, along with further details of our proposals and ways to get in touch.

“We are really looking forward to engaging with the public and listening to all views regarding the latest plans.”

Plans to redevelop the town centre site date back more than 40 years and Simons was first granted outline planning permission for the second phase of the scheme in September 2010.

West Dorset District Council, which has since moved to new offices on the site that formed the first phase of the development, has since agreed to fund up to £2million or preparatory works for the phase two scheme and earlier this year the authority agreed to underwrite the 'financial gap to viability' up to a further £2million.

This has been met with strong criticism, with some asking where the line would be drawn.

District councillor Alistair Chisholm said he did not yet know the details of the revised scheme but he was keen to ensure that affordable housing was provided on the town centre site and that proper archaeology works were carried out before any works commenced.

He said that the developers had been given enough time and plenty of support in terms of public funds and it was now time they delivered a scheme that Dorchester deserved.

Cllr Chisholm said: “I just hope that it is going to be suitable and appropriately done and there will be something in it for everybody including the public.”

Dorchester town and district councillor Stella Jones said she was also keen to ensure that any scheme provided affordable housing on site, adding that providing a financial contribution for affordable housing sites elsewhere would not be sufficient as the town had limited town centre sites available.

She said: “We do need affordable housing in the town centre.

“I think it's very important to have it on site.”


The history of the Charles Street scheme

1973 - Plans for a new-look Dorchester town centre first touted, a proposed redevelopment was abandoned a year later because it was seen as too ambitious.

Late 1980s - A scheme to build a two-storey shopping mall on Charles Street put forward by developers but falls down after the collapse of the property market.

Late 1990s - Developers Helical put forward plans to redevelop the site with department stores, around 25 smaller shops, an extension to Waitrose and housing but the scheme was abandoned in 2000 after failing to September 2006 - Simons selected by the district council as preferred developer for the site.

August 2007 - Representatives from Simons and West Dorset District Council put pen to paper on a development agreement, which sets out how the developers and council will take the site forward.

July 2009 - Opposition councillors voice anger after council announces Simons as preferred developer for new office scheme. Simons release first artist's impression of what new offices will look like.

September 28, 2010 - Members of West Dorset District Council's development control committee approve full planning application for council office and library block and grant outline permission for the rest of the scheme.

June 6, 2011 - Work begins on site October 2012 - Despite opposition from residents and some members, the council backs plans to spend £2million of public money on preparatory works for the Charles Street phase two scheme, including relocating the Dorchester Community Church. The authority also approves amendments to the plans that include replacing a proposed hotel with 24 apartments and scrapping the lower deck of basement car parking with additional parking provided at the Fairfield Market car park instead.

December 2012 - Council staff begin moving into new offices at South Walks House, with the move completed and offices open to the public by the end of January 2013.

September 2013 - Simons submits application to extend outline planning permission for phase two of the scheme as original permission is set to expire.

December 2013 - Planning permission is extended for two years.

January 2014 - Marks and Spencer announced as second anchor store.

February 2014 - West Dorset District Council agrees to underwrite the 'financial gap to viability' on the phase two scheme up to the value of £2.062m.