BRIDPORT town councillors have been left fuming after being told that the detail of the controversial St Michael’s Trading Estate development scheme has nothing to do with them.

A letter from West Dorset District Council ’s chief executive made it clear that planners would not be in touch with the town over the conditions and small print of the outline planning permission to create 105 homes and workspace units on the site in the town’s south-west quadrant.

Furious councillors dubbed the letter insulting and said it made a mockery of new localism laws and vowed to not let the issue rest.

The go-ahead for the scheme to revamp the run-down estate was given by the district council in June amid scenes of chaos and recrimination when councillors rejected a 33-page report from their own planning officers recommending the application by landowners Clive and Norman Hayward should be refused.

The letter to town clerk Bob Gillis from David Clarke made it clear that despite “some confusion” at the development control meeting in Dorchester , he felt that the council had obeyed the rules and that the committee’s decision was correct.

He also revealed that the Secretary of State has refused to call in the application and the final decision on granting permission rests with West Dorset, subject to agreement over a legally binding list of conditions.

“Therefore as things stand, planning permission and conservation area consent will both be issued once the terms of the existing committee resolutions have been met.

“The resolutions clearly set out the heads of terms for the section 106 agreement and the required conditions.

“None of these directly involves Bridport Town Council so there will be no need for you to be consulted further at this stage.”

Mr Clarke added that it was a matter for the Haywards if they wanted to work with the town council on managing a proposed wildlife area and riverside walk.

Bridport town and district councillor Ros Kayes said she and town Mayor David Rickard were both very disappointed with the contents of the letter.

“It makes a mockery of the localism agenda and it really underlines the needs for us to have a neighbourhood plan,” she said.


A STATEMENT of Truth petition has been delivered to West Dorset District Council’s chief executive David Clarke, pictured below.

It states that planners failed to take a vote on the application for demolition of buildings within a conservation area on the St Michael’s Trading Estate at the controversial June meeting in Dorchester.

A score of signatories who were at the meeting signed to say that the council minutes are incorrect and that the meeting should be held again, in Bridport, to reconsider the matter.

A district council statement issued in response to complaints about the procedure said: “The proposition was put to the meeting by the chairman and a vote in favour was taken.

“The confusion here was caused by the fact that many people in the chamber were on their feet either leaving or talking to others in the belief that the meeting had been adjourned.”