PLANS for a community hall to accommodate up to 300 people in Poundbury have been approved by councillors.

However, the committee which approved the plans have been told a consultation exercise will take place later in the year to establish whether the facility is actually necessary.

The application for Crown Hall in Poundbury's North East Quadrant set to establish the size and location of the hall, with more detailed plans to follow.

It was considered by West Dorset District Council's planning committee.

The Duchy of Cornwall is currently required to provide the facility under a planning obligation when 600 homes are occupied in the North East Quadrant and North Quadrant phases of Poundbury.

Planning officer Andrew Martin said: "If we get to the 600th home and the community hall has not been provided then development would have to stop."

He added that the plans, which also include a commercial unit, 20 apartments and associated parking, had been amended recently with what he described as a "calmer architectural approach" for the landmark buildings.

Mr Martin added: "I see nothing in the revised schemes which creates an issue in policy terms."

The planning obligation requiring the Duchy to provide a community hall dates back to 2012 and Mr Martin revealed that a consultation exercise was due to take place in Poundbury later in the year to seek to establish the local need.

He said it was possible that, pending the outcome of the consultation, the obligation could be looked at again and the Duchy could offer to provide funding towards another community facility in the area if there was not adequate need for it.

Mr Martin said: "The Duchy themselves now accept that it need to look again at this particular obligation and intends to enter into a consultation exercise with Poundbury residents soon asking the very question: do you think that a 300-seat hall on Poundbury is the appropriate way forward or should we look at community the equivalent sum of money to supporting, say, the Maltings Theatre."

Cllr Robin Potter agreed that there may not be a need for the community hall on Poundbury.

He said: "There is a swell of opinion that this hall is no longer required and will have an adverse effect on various other venues."

Mr Martin said it was important to establish the community hall as a "fallback" position so it did not impede further development on Poundbury.