PROPOSALS for 17 homes on the former Dorchester gas works site in Icen Way have been withdrawn.

No reason has been given and the planning application could be revised and re-submitted at any time.

The proposal to make use of the site had been generally welcomed although there were concerns about the density of the main block of flats and a wish, by some, to see what remains of the building which faces onto the street refurbished.

Dorchester town council, who only have an advisory role, asked for a number of changes to be considered.

These include keeping the face of the former fire-damaged building with its distinctive window, having some affordable housing on the site, maintaining the Icen Way wall; planting more ‘greenery’ on the site and trying to improve the natural lighting for two of the homes.

Cllr Stella Jones, who came up with the list of changes at a meeting earlier in the year, said the developers should also ensure archaeology was given proper consideration as the site is on the edge of the old Roman town.

Dorset Council’s conservation officer had been unable to the application because of the total loss of the existing buildings and what was described as the ‘overbearing and dominant design’ of one of the two blocks.

Said a report on the application: “In terms of the harm to the Conservation Area as a designated heritage asset, there are public benefits that would flow from the development, particularly relating to the provision of housing and in regenerating a neglected plot. However, it is considered that these benefits could be provided in such a way that the harm could be better mitigated…our balanced view is that the scale of harm or loss is excessive and not demonstrably avoidable; the possibilities for mitigation have not yet been sufficiently explored.”

Town councillors had been told that the developers argued that the scheme would not be viable for affordable housing because of the cost of dealing with any possible contamination in the ground.

Developers, Kewmark Ltd had proposed 15 two-bed flats and 2 one-bed flats on the site, all for sale on the open market, together with space for cars, bins and bicycles.

Their plans asked for the existing building on the roadside to be demolished with a new building on the same footprint for four flats, with a second three-storey building set back on the site for the remaining 13 properties.

The town gas works are believed to have been on the site since 1835.