AN ARGUMENT has broken out between Charminster’s parish councillors and village hall trustees over plans for a new village hall within a 70-home development.
Developers Wyatt Homes met with residents in June to find out which community facilities they wanted to be included in their proposed development for land at Charminster Farm.
They proposed building a new village hall with 30 dedicated parking spaces on Weir View, along with a village green, tennis court and turning area for parents dropping their children off at St Mary’s School to ease congestion on surrounding roads.
As part of ongoing discussions with Wyatt Homes, Charminster parish council distributed a survey to gain residents’ views on the plans, but village hall trustees circulated a flyer to homes urging residents to oppose the proposal in its current form and accused the council of ‘endorsing’ the development.
In the flyer, the trustees said: “We do not support the proposal for a new hall. We do not wish to see our village hall, in the heart of the community, destroyed.”
They said Wyatt Homes’ proposal for a new hall ‘is to encourage a planning approval on a site that is outside of the village development boundary’.
Trustees also claimed they were excluded from discussions between the council and Wyatt Homes about the hall.
Mark Simons chairman of Charminster parish council, said the council was not ‘promoting’ the development, but the new hall would allow Wyatt to invest in Charminster rather than give money to the District Council for the wider area.
Cllr Simons also said there wasn’t time to consult external organisations due to time constraints, because it was more likely the plans could be passed if they were submitted before the new West Dorset Local Plan came into force.
He said: “However plans for a new village hall were going to come about, [the trustees] were never going to be enthusiastic. The disappointing thing about their response was that they only focused on the negative things. I would like to see how they explain the [existing hall’s] problems with parking, and how the fact that it’s not big enough for the needs of the expanding village will be solved over the next thirty years.”
The parish council’s survey closed on August 20 and residents’ views are currently being collated in advance of an expected planning application submission from Wyatt Homes in early September.
The trustees’ flyer can be viewed at charminstervillagehall.co.uk/docs/Village_flyer.pdf.
The trustees’ response
CHRISTINE Shaw, chairman of the village hall trustees, responded to the Cllr Simon’s comments, saying: “I don’t think Mark is being quite fair. We have not been asked to comment on the development as a whole.”
She said she appreciated the needs of the growing village, but the trustees’ responsibility for the charitable trust is to maintain the current land and building as the village hall.
“We can’t just go out of the door and put the key under the mat.
“We feel, as do many others in the parish, that the existing hall is adequate. If the village does double in size, then perhaps we will have to review things then.”