PROPOSALS for thousands of homes to the north of Dorchester seem certain to be included in the new Local Plan for the area.

The controversial proposals have led to street marches and other demonstrations in the county town with a number of local groups opposing the development.

Most argue that they would ruin the historic water meadows and the setting of the town and push too many people into Dorchester.

But Dorset Council seems determined to continue including the scheme in its developing new Local Plan for the area confirming this week that work was progressing on the proposal  – according to replies to questions at this week’s meeting by two Cabinet member.

Planning brief holder Cllr David Walsh had been asked by Dorchester town councillor Alistair Chisholm how the proposed 4,000 home scheme would ‘enhance’ the landscape, a phrase used in a consultant’s report on the development proposals.

Cllr Walsh said that draft proposals had set out “a wide range of requirements for any potential development in this location.  These included significant copse planting to break up the built form in views from the AONB; the provision of a local nature reserve at the water meadows; and creating opportunities for heritage-led tourism and greater interpretation and appreciation of the heritage assets of the area.”

He told Cllr Chisholm that a detailed assessment of the implications for the heritage associated with the north of Dorchester area is currently being prepared. “This will enable any development in this location to understand fully and respond positively to the historic environment,” he said.

Fellow cabinet member Cllr Ray Bryan, who holds the climate change and environment briefs, said that Dorchester was being considered for future development because it would help cut down on travel.

“Development in sustainable locations where people can access jobs and services reducing the need to travel by car is critical and will be a guiding principle in our Local Plan.  This is why the larger settlements such as Dorchester, which already have a wide range of facilities, are being considered… all development will in future be expected to provide a net gain for biodiversity including through the provision of green infrastructure,” he told the full council meeting.