Poundbury continues to grow, 5 acres of potential housing on the old prison site now regarded as some kind of theme park, Charles Street area cleared and abandoned, many other available brownfield sites - and yet Dorset Council is ready to ignore the needs and wishes of local people in order to satisfy ill-considered government targets.

The area which is set to be developed is steeped in local history, is part of Thomas Hardy’s beloved Casterbridge and Mellstock, and includes important meadows, downland and hedgerows which are home to dozens of important wildlife species.

Hardy would be turning in his grave and his many thousands of fans will be wondering how any right-thinking public authority can simply ignore this heritage and history.

What will we get - concrete and tarmac putting the surrounding area at much greater risk of flooding, an urbanised area considerably larger than the Poundbury development which has already been allowed to dominate the landscape and for whom? What percentage will go to local people and how much to outsiders who can actually afford to populate this ‘urban village’ (but probably for just a few weeks each year).

This proposed plan should be seen as what it is - an ill-considered exercise in meeting the needs of central government rather than those of local people and the many thousands of visitors who come to Dorset to explore the history and heritage of the area, and not to visit housing estates where that history and heritage once belonged.

Terry Bird

North Street