SKETCHES detailing controversial development plans for nearly 800 homes in West Dorset have been unveiled.

Hallam Land Management recently submitted the sketches for Vearse Farm in Bridport in discussions surrounding a local plan for West Dorset.

The plans are for 760 new homes with allocation of land for a primary school, a care home, business units and open space. The site lies within the Dorset area of outstanding natural beauty, is 1.7 miles from the Jurassic Coastline and consists of 70 hectares of farmland.

The local plan examination began on November 25 at West Dorset District Council offices and was expected to last three weeks.

The development for Vearse Farm has proved contentious, with opposing campaigners presenting a petition of 1,400 signatures to West Dorset District Council last week.

The petition demanded that the authority rethink the inclusion of Vearse Farm in its local plan.

Richard Freer, from campaign group ADVEARSE, said: “The petition has further expressed the grave concerns of Bridport residents over the viability of this excessively large and objectionably-sited development at Vearse Farm now lodged with him.”

However, a support group for the development has also been set up, called Future Bridport, with supporters saying Bridport needs development.

The group has grown in popularity on social media and started its own petition in favour of the development, which has so far attracted 350 signatures.

Tom Glover, from Future Bridport, said: “This development would help ease the demand for houses and allow space for local people, who wish to stay and add to the community, to get a foot on the housing ladder.”

Bridport Town Council has also voiced its concerns on the development, and recently questioned whether there had been sufficient consultation on the Vearse Farm allocation.

The town council was represented at the local plan examination hearing in Dorchester by council leader Cllr Sarah Williams, Cllr Dave Rickard and town clerk Bob Gillis.

Cllr Williams asked that local people be allowed the opportunity to decide on the level of development they want to see in Bridport through the emerging Neighbour-hood Plan.

She said at this stage, the inspector is looking only at the soundness of the local plan.

The outcome of the inspection process will be heard in the New Year, with a consultation should there be any proposed further modifications to the draft plan.

n ANDY Birch, area manager for Hallam Land Management, said: “The potential site has been identified by West Dorset District Council as their preferred development site at Bridport in their emerging local plan, which will guide development in the district up until 2028.

“The proposal is for a mix of residential, including affordable housing, employment and community use facilities; combined with extensive areas of green infrastructure and open space.”