More than 400 people have already signed an online petition calling for West Dorset District Council to delay a decision and consult on an amended phase two proposal for the town centre scheme that would see it spend up to £2million of taxpayers’ money.
West Dorset Liberal Democrats will be in Dorchester’s South Street outside Starbucks from 10am to 1pm on Saturday to chat to residents and give them an opportunity to sign the petition. Campaigners will also be in Bridport’s Bucky Doo Square from 10am to noon and outside the Three Cups in Lyme Regis from 10am to 1pm.
Liberal Democrat councillor Andy Canning said: “All we are calling for is the decision on October 25 to be delayed for a short while to allow the council to conduct a proper exercise in public consultation.
West Dorset District Council faces a choice of sticking with the current scheme, which it admits is not viable in the current economic climate, or amending the details of phase two of the development at considerable cost.
The amended scheme proposed by developers’ Simons would see the planned hotel scrapped in favour of 24 apartments and the basement car park axed while a single-deck facility was built on the Fairfield market site instead.
The report warns if the council does not take action the two anchor tenants lined up for the scheme, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, could withdraw.
The first phase of the scheme has already caused widespread anger as the council voted to build its new headquarters and a new library on the site.
Despite calls for wider public involvement, the district council will not hold a public consultation before the decision is made. Instead, plans will be put on display at a venue to be confirmed, with staff on hand to answer questions.
PREPARATORY WORK TO COST £2M
To move the project forward the council is considering preparatory work at a cost of £2million.
- Relocating the Dorchester Community Church from Acland Road to Trinity Street to a new church building provided by the council and acquiring the church’s freehold interest by means of a land swap.
- securing the pedestrian access and landing rights through the Tudor and Hardye arcades
- securing other access rights including making the appropriate traffic regulation orders
- securing rights of light and other legal costs.
Anyone who wants to sign the petition online can visit charlesstreetpetition.org.uk