AN outline plan for up to 140 homes at Crossways has been unanimously approved by West Dorset planners.

The committee was told that the increased density was in keeping and ‘more appropriate’ than a previous scheme for 85 homes on the same site, agreed in 2016.

The Woodsford Farms application for land west of Frome Valley Road includes more than a third of the homes being ‘affordable’ with the site having a children’s play area and a nature-friendly ‘green spaces’.

The 11-hectare site is north west of Crossways and is one of the ‘preferred option’ sites identified for housing in the Local Plan.

Crossways parish council had questioned whether the site is able to take an increase from the previously granted 85 homes to 140. They also say that the site should have pedestrian and cycle links to the village.

The planning committee heard that there had been several letters of objection include worries about over development, being ‘out of keeping’ with the area; highway safety and being outside the village development boundary.

A report from the district council planning team to councillors said that the higher number of homes is more appropriate than the previous proposal which had been described as “low density.”

“This density increase would allow a more continuous frontage onto Frome Valley Road. A better frontage onto this road would assist in the assimilation of the proposed development into the area,” says the officer report.

An agent for the developers told the committee that the extra homes made more efficient use of the land and reduced pressure on the need to build on other sites. He said that the extra homes would have a negligible effect on local roads and that plans had been made for wildlife areas within the scheme, supported by Natural England and the Dorset Wildlife Trust. DWT were likely to take on the lease of the nature areas on an 80-year term.

Highways officer Ian Madgwick said that the increase in homes would be ‘insignificant’ for the road junction which he described as “ perfectly safe and adequate.”

Cllr Stella Jones proposed agreeing the application: “We are desperately short of smaller, affordable housing in the area,” she said.

The committee unanimously backed her proposal, without discussion, delegating the details to the head of planning.

Speaking afterwards Cllr Ian Gardner, West Dorset District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning, said: “We welcome the outline approval of a further West Dorset housing scheme; a development which is already identified in our preferred options consultation document.

“Not only will this development help us meet the five Year Land Supply target it will also provide a significant open space for the benefit of Crossways residents.”

West Dorset District Council together with Weymouth & Portland Borough Council and North Dorset District Council want to see 20,000 more homes built in the combined area by 2033 under the Opening Doors campaign.