Last week, the news came through that the Garden Village scheme has awarded a significant grant to Dorset Council.

The main purpose of the grant is to help the Council draw up a proper master-plan for a new garden village on the north side of Dorchester. This also means that the project will get help from central government when it comes to applying for the much bigger sums of money needed for infrastructure; and the housing Ministry will also now help Dorset Council to surmount the various bureaucratic hurdles.

The proposal to create a new garden village in this north Dorchester site will, of course, be controversial. Strong objections to any development of this location have already been expressed in some quarters, and there will, very properly be a considerable and lively debate as the master plan is developed.

But I have a feeling that much (even if not all) of the objection to the scheme will gradually abate if it becomes clear that this is in fact going to be a genuinely beautiful and distinguished construction.

On the other side of Dorchester, the Prince of Wales has shown with Poundbury that it is possible to construct something distinguished and sympathetic to its location in quite a large scale, provided that there is a sufficiently imaginative and aesthetically sensitive master plan. All too often, planners and developers talk about “place-making” without actually achieving anything remotely like a place. I have seen egregious examples of this around the country, with serried ranks of virtually uniform buildings, nothing green in sight, and little of any attempt to fold the new into the old.

On Poundbury, by contrast, whether one likes the style or not, there clearly is a style. There is also a shape to the place, plenty of greenery, and a real sense of connection with the surrounding landscape as well as the adjoining parts of Dorchester.

If this welcome grant means that we are heading towards the creation of another - though no doubt rather different - Poundbury, then I think we may well be able to achieve a consensus in favour of constructing the houses we so desperately need.