A RURAL business centre could be developed at the former BBC transmitter site at Rampisham – with a range of companies said to be interested.

Among those listed are a firm producing music for films, a vets’, stone sculpture, a joinery business, charcutier, steel fabricator and a ceramic producer.

Few changes are thought likely to be needed to the external appearance of the site although internal changes would be needed to create suitable spaces for small to medium-sized businesses interested in re-locating there. Historic features, including the carved BBC crest, would be retained.

A planning application to Dorset Council seeks approval for changes to a range of buildings on the site, some of them retrospective.

The site, in open countryside, four miles from Maiden Newton and eight from Dorchester, was last used for BBC transmissions in October 2011 by which time it was operated by Babcock International.

The BBC acquired the site in 1939 using it for World Service short-wave radio transmissions with a number of changes made over the years since then. It still benefits from a super-fast broadband link, dedicated to the site, installed by the BBC.

Dorset Echo: Iconic – the former BBC World Service base at Rampisham Down, Maiden Newton, West Dorset, went on the market at a guide price of £2.5M in 2018Iconic – the former BBC World Service base at Rampisham Down, Maiden Newton, West Dorset, went on the market at a guide price of £2.5M in 2018

At one point there were 35 antennae around the buildings, ranging from 50 to 100m, most of which have been felled although the area has mobile phone towers, just outside of the application area.

Some of the buildings have continued to be used for workshops, or storage, since the site was closed for BBC use. None of the buildings are said to be of any architectural merit, fitting the description of ‘utalitarian’ with planning officers suggesting it would be more sustainable to keep them, rather than demolish and build new.

Dorset Echo: The radio towers at Rampisham before they were demolishedThe radio towers at Rampisham before they were demolished

The planning application for business use at the site says the main building alone has a floor area of 4,320 square metres with most of the former transmitter equipment now removed. It, and other areas, could be sub-divided to produce a range of spaces suitable for small and medium-sized businesses as well as start-up units.

The site lies within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is designated as a County Site of Nature Conservation Interest and Site of Special scientific Interest mainly for its range of plants.

The application, from Worldwide Commercial Investments Ltd, says it does not seek to make any changes beyond the boundaries of the existing buildings and hardstandings.

The application is open for public comments until November 4th and can be seen on the Dorset Council website – reference 2021/03923.