DORCHESTER'S town crier says he is disappointed by the "lack of vision" shown in the latest plans for the town's Charles Street site.

West Dorset District Council's executive committee will meet tomorrow to discuss plans to move forward with the long held ambition of inheriting the town centre site.

With a previous scheme by developer Simons having failed, the council is now leading the redevelopment plans and is looking to test demand for a smaller scheme whilst also exploring other options for retail development in the town.

The committee will be consider the outcomes of soft market testing and also an archaeology review.

Town crier Alistair Chisholm, who is also a town councillor, says he is glad the archaeological review had taken place but he feels the proposals being put forward do not make the most of the history beneath the site.

He said: "What saddens me is there is nothing progressive or visionary in what is being proposed.

"Nobody seems to be thinking outside the box and considering the archaeology not as an awkward impediment to development but thinking there are some very interesting bits and pieces under there that we can use to our advantage."

Cllr Chisholm said only a fraction of the site needed to be given over to archaeological interpretation but, presented in the right way, this could serve as a way of celebrating the town's rich history and heritage and telling the story of Dorchester.

He said: "Given the way you can present information now, surely it is the single feature which makes it unique and you can do something with that to make people aware that the story of Dorchester goes back way before the Romans."

Cllr Chisholm added: "I do believe the archaeology is being seen as a negative but it can be turned into a huge positive for the town.

"At least they are thinking about it, which is a huge move forward.

"Let's hope the town is in a position to make sure that which time has left us is treated with respect and used to our advantage."

At the meeting tomorrow, members will be asked to consider the results of soft market testing and an archaeological review of the Charles Street site and allocate up to £520,000 to enable the preparation of feasibility studies, a development strategy and the marketing of the Charles Street site and other town centre locations with a potential for further retail development.

Cllr Anthony Alford, Leader of West Dorset District Council, said: "We have to make sure any plans are market-led, viable and deliverable.

"Car parking and preserving our valued archaeology will be cornerstones of any future plans.

"The archaeological peer review concludes that development of Charles Street is possible, provided located sensitivity to the potential archaeology, with mitigation measures and using appropriate construction methods."