A PORTLAND man claims Dorset Council has failed to tell all his neighbours about a housing scheme which he believes has the potential to clog up Sweethill Road and cause traffic to back up into Southwell.

Phil Francombe, whose property in Sweethill Road backs onto the proposed housing site, says he had been canvassing for three days and, so far, has not found anyone else who knows about the plans. He believes the council should have directly informed everyone in all the roads likely to be affected.

In his own case the letter telling him about the plans was dated April 1, but did not reach him until April 9. He says the deadline for public comment is tomorrow - Saturday, April 17.

“I’m not too bothered about the houses themselves but the effects on the whole area of all the extra traffic. It’s bad enough now but will be even worse if the Atlantic Academy loses more parking spaces as a result,” he said.

“Dorset Council have failed to inform all of the people this would affect. People in the road often can’t get out now because of people parking all over the place. If there is less parking on the Academy site it will back up even more, pushing the problem down into Southwell.”

Mr Francombe said he called on business park owners on Wednesday and none knew of the proposals and when he contacted Aspirations, which runs the Academy, they said they had not been told of it either.

The application, from Coastline Homes, is described a ‘land adjacent to the former Gatehouse, West Way, Southwell Business Park’ and can be seen on the Dorset Council website with the reference number WP/21/001096/FUL.

It contains the details for eight houses on the site which was granted a permission in principle in 2019.

The application does says there will be a loss of 34 parking spaces on the site – reducing numbers from the current 50 to 16 - allowing two for each new home.

The properties proposed are two 2-bed and six 3-bed, the latter all semi-detached.

Dorset Council’s website lists 13 properties where letters were sent including four in Sweethill Road, two in Underhedge Gardens, one in Yeolands Road, one on the High Street, one in Cheyne Close and three business addresses.

This, on the face of it, complies with the obligation to consult immediate neighbours directly. A letter was also sent to Portland Town Council informing them of the application  - all were dated April 1st according to the Dorset Council site.

Two residents are currently listed as making objections. One says “Sweethill Road cannot cope with any more traffic. This is completely the wrong place for more houses since the school arrived.”

The other, from Nigel and Judith Shaw, says: “Our objection is based principally on Highway Safety. The proposed building plot will remove approximately a third of the widest area of the car park, used primarily by Aspirations Academy staff, parents and visitors. Admittedly, as noted by the Highways Inspector, the area is normally not used for long term parking during the day. However, this is not the issue. If the Highways Inspector visited the site at ‘dropping off’ or ‘picking up’ times, he/she would see the land in question is heavily used by parents, despatching, or collecting their children. This is when the biggest safety issues already occur.

“The space concerned relieves the congestion caused at these times around the entrance and along Sweethill Road. If this area is no longer available, the remaining car park will not be adequate to cope with the volume of vehicles trying to come onto and get out of the site. As a result parents are likely to give up trying to access the car park and park their cars along Sweethill Road instead, thereby narrowing the road for two-way traffic and causing more congestion over a greater area and giving more opportunity for accidents to occur and more importantly, danger to children trying to cross this busy road.”

Dorset Council has been asked to comment on Mr Francombe’s claims that more people should have been consulted. They have also been asked if a time extension will be given for comments in the light of slow delivery of the initial neighbour letters.