I read Oliver Letwin’s column in Saturday’s Echo with a great deal of alarm. He waxes enthusiastically and eloquently about “a new garden village on the north side of Dorchester” which, like the Duchy’s Poundbury development, would be “distinguished” and “sympathetic to its location…..provided that there is a sufficiently imaginative and aesthetically sensitive master plan.”

If I’m correct in my assumption that my MP is referring to the area identified as “DOR 15” in WDDC’s Review of the Local Plan, then I feel certain that his comments are not only exceedingly presumptuous but are very much out of order at this stage in the process. Comments on that Review, made by various groups and local individuals, have yet to be summarised and published and, as I understand the current situation, no decision has yet been taken on whether to develop the DOR 15 site.

Why should our MP so clearly act in support of this particular site before the due process has even begun ? It does of course divert our attention from the chaos of Brexit and the farce of the Tory leadership campaign….or should that indeed be “coronation’ ?

Mr Letwin writes “Strong objections to any development of this location have already been expressed and there will, very properly, be a lively debate as the masterplan is developed.” I interpret that to mean that the totally Conservative cabinet of the new Dorset Council have already agreed that DOR 15 will be developed regardless of any expression from the people of Dorchester who will be most affected by the scheme.

As this development poses the greatest threat to the county town since those posed by the railway companies in the mid-nineteenth century, it is vital that proper planning procedures are followed to the letter and that decisions are only made in the light of honest and sincere public consultation on the matter.