Proposals for a pedestrian link to the former Dorchester Prison site via Glyde Path Road have been abandoned.

The developers say a pedestrian link is not viable – and planning officer agree with them.

They are recommending approval for plans to convert a former stable to a house, without any link through to the prison.

Developers City and Country argue that the best which could have been done was to create a path less than two-metres wide, but that would have made the house unviable, and become a security risk.

At the last local planning committee, in early October, West Dorset councillors voted by a margin of one against approving the conversion – but then failed to come up with a reason to reject it.

After struggling to find a valid planning reason for rejection the committee deferred the application for further investigation and to hold more discussions with the developers.

Those talks have now been held and have reached the conclusion that the pedestrian link was never part of the original scheme and would not work, if the building is to be converted to a home.

“A 2-metre wide footpath provided through the building, in accordance with the minimum design standards, would reduce the proposed dwelling to approximately 57.4 sq.m in size. The Nationally Described Space Standards state that a one bedroom, two person dwelling in a two storey building should achieve a gross internal floor area of at least 58 sq.m together with an additional 1.5 sq.m of built-in storage space. Therefore if a footpath link were to be provided through the building, it would result in a dwelling that does not meet the minimum Nationally Described Space Standard, whereas the proposed scheme without the pedestrian link would provide a dwelling with a gross internal area of approximately 64 sq.m which would exceed this standard,” says a report to the committee.

Dorchester councillors, and others, argued that if the stable were converted it would cut off a potential pedestrian access to the homes planned for the five-acre prison site – turning it into a gated community.

Cllr Stella Jones claimed that for safety reasons a second access was need. She said that in the event of an emergency North Square was the only way in and out of the site.

The pedestrian route had never been formally included in the planning permission, or any other agreement because, at the time the developers did not own the Glyde Path Road building.

Planning officers are now again recommending the committee, which meets on November 15th, approve the conversion of the building into a small one-bed home with kitchen-diner.

City and Country only bought the house, for around £35,000, earlier this year.

Their agent, Adrian Fox, said that it was viable as a house but would not be viable if an archway was put in to allow a pedestrian access to the prison site.