A CAMPAIGN against plans for more than 3,500 homes north of Dorchester is being ramped up ahead of a public consultation.

An eight-week consultation into Dorset Council's Local Plan - which will guide decisions on planning applications for around the next 20 years - will be launched on January 18.

Dorset Echo:

Plans for thousands of homes in the countryside to the north of Dorchester is among the developments due to be included in the plan.

Save the Area North of Dorchester (STAND) is a campaign group fighting against the proposals, and has asked the public to put forward their concerns when the consultation is launched.

Dorset Echo:

Spearheading the campaign is Dorchester councillor Alistair Chisholm, who said the area proposed for the homes has seen no major development dating back to the Roman era.

Mr Chisholm said: "North Dorchester hasn't changed since Roman times - it's rich in prehistory.

"It's a very unique feature of the area and developing on it will see it lose inestimable value."

Dorset Echo:

There have been several protests over the last two years, including mass walks around the site and a protest outside the Dorset Council offices in South Walks to highlight what STAND says is a risk to the future character of the county town and the beauty of open farmland and water meadows.

Much of the site is alongside an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and various sites which has special status listings.

However, the project's developers Grainger Plc and Persimmon Homes have said the project will provide a wide range of benefits.

A spokesman for the Consortium said: "The proposals can provide Dorchester with much needed new housing and job opportunities, alongside a new northern link road connecting the A35 to the A37, new schools, a health centre and a major new park for recreation and nature.

“The provision of new housing for Dorchester is undoubtedly important.

"However, the Consortium recognises the new housing must be well-designed and come with the necessary supporting infrastructure, facilities and services that will benefit new and existing residents alike."

Dorset Council's Local Plan is currently in development and will set out planning policies and allocations for the Dorset Council area until at least 2038.

The consultation will give residents the opportunity to comment on the council's draft plan, which outlines the strategy for ensuring the growth that the area needs happens in the right places and is of the right character and quality.

A spokeswoman from Dorset Council said: "All the responses will be considered before making any decisions about which sites should be in the plan."

The developers said they will respond to Dorset Council’s proposed Local Plan consultation and would 'encourage all interested parties, whether they support or object to the proposals, to participate in this exercise'.