PLANS to build two homes on a car park site in the centre of Dorchester have been approved, despite strong objections from neighbours.

West Dorset District Council approved the proposal for two semi-detached properties on the Bennetts Court car park, which was sold off with the authority’s former Stratton House offices.

The car park is currently being used by Dorchester BID (Business Improvement District) to provide parking for workers in the town after the developers agreed to temporary allow them to use the facility.

Neighbouring residents raised objections to the homes scheme citing the impact on their privacy, road safety issues, over development of the site and the impact on the conservation area.

One of the neighbours Sarah Wilkinson said: “Any privacy, quality of life and amenity would be removed for us and future generations.”

Dorchester town and district councillor Susie Hosford also raised concerns that the plans had been amended from those originally submitted and the town council had not been given a chance to comment on the amendments while local residents had not even been notified.

She also raised concerns that the town council had voiced before about the ‘piecemeal’ approach to developing the whole Stratton House site through a series of separate applications without an overarching plan for the whole site.

Council officer David Hodges explained that the plans had been amended following discussions with council officers and the changes were not deemed to present a material change to the scheme as a whole so it was not seen as necessary to carry out the consultation process again.

He added: “In principle we do not have an objection to the site being developed.

“It’s in a sustainable area within the town centre.

“The use of the site for two residential properties is considered to be in keeping with the overall pattern and form of the area.”

Attempts by committee members Robin Potter and Robin Legg to either delay a decision for a site visit to be carried out or to reject the application entirely were both lost on a vote.

A proposal to approve the scheme saw five of the committee vote in favour and five against, giving chairman Ian Gardner the casting vote and he decided in favour of the scheme.

Town councillor Vivienne Allan, who attended the meeting, said afterwards that she could not understand why the committee had not at least agreed to delay their decision to carry out a site visit.