REF your article dated 12 Feb – ‘Anger over prison sale’, Councillor Chisholm is right to challenge the handling of the sale of the Dorchester Prison site.

Once again our planning process has failed to deliver. This prime town centre site should have provided the opportunity to make a significant contribution to the need for affordable housing in the town. Instead the developers have at the first opportunity, sidestepped the issue and used the well tried ‘Viability Act’ to avoid any affordable housing location. Having achieved their objective it is of little surprise that the developers are now selling the site at a vast profit.

In the meantime other ‘brownfield’ sites such as the old Mountjoy School in Bridport, and the former Dorset Cereals factory on Poundbury lie empty and neglected.

In sharp contrast our planners continue to concentrate their efforts in pursuing the huge industrial scale development to the North of Dorchester. This euphemistically described ‘garden village’ threatens to ruin forever the unique setting that the town enjoys with its far ranging views and countryside.

The stark reality is that Dorchester does not have the infrastructure for an additional 3,500 houses – its roads are congested, its health service creaking and the education system overloaded.

The new unitary authority should take the opportunity to rethink the West Dorset housing strategy by focusing on preserving our beautiful countryside, utilising existing brownfield sites and most importantly challenging the flawed, meaningless housing targets from central government.

It is time for Dorset to take a stand against unnecessary, unwanted and destructive development.

David Gargrave